A reclusive genius dies, leaving his massive online gaming empire behind, and kickstarting a chain of events that will lead to the end of economies and possibly the fall of civilisation as we know it.
At least, that’s the premise. And it starts promisingly, with a slow burn introduction as disparate threads of the plot are introduced. We meet the hard-bitten cop who doesn’t really understand the crime he’s investigating; the amoral killer who might just be redeemable; the grasping starlet who’ll do anything to keep herself in the spotlight; and the star of the show, the reclusive dead genius himself, who becomes something of a literal deus ex machina throughout the course of the two books.
What is remarkable about the unfolding plot is the sense of bitter rage directed at our current economic system, and our helplessness to do anything about it. The two books act as a crì de coeur for the world’s population to take back control of our systems of governance and our tools of economic prosperity, but not by anything so simple as a return to wholesome material production. No, the vision of a new system that Suarez reveals little by little is one heartlessly egalitarian.
If it’s not obvious, I hugely enjoyed these books. Despite some moments of wince-inducing villainy (and stupidity), the plot unfolds engagingly, giving us heroes (yay!) and villains (boo!) but not making them quite so clear-cut as all that. For the most part, the villain of the story is apathy. The two novels act as a potent restorative against that particular malaise.