The concept of this book blew me away. The idea that a soul - or whatever it is that's left of us when we die - can get trapped in some 'digital cosmos,' had me fascinated. The doctrine of 'The Movement' is that leaving a digital footprint behind - a traceable stream of websites and chat-rooms visited, emails sent and online purchases - prevents a person being forgotten in time, thus leaving their soul tethered and unable to move on. Despite it being a work of fiction, the book made me really think about the thrall of the Internet, and my use of it.
We join our nameless narrator as he learns about 'The Movement' from his affected friend Bammer, whom he fittingly meets online, and whose background is soon revealed to be both tragic and shocking. Armed with the new and powerful knowledge, he seeks then to remove every digital trace of 'Her;' his lost love, and then himself, so that they might both ascend from the 'cloud' that would hold them. His journey is by no means an easy one, with deceit and twists that I for one never saw coming, and even the threat of torture.
Written in an easy-to-read, conversational style, singularly from the narrator's POV, the story is fast-paced. There is little in the way of drawn-out description and lyrical language for the sake of it, which is perfect here, allowing the book to be all about the compelling storyline. That said, the first and final chapters are written in an entirely different tone, bearing witness to the aging of the narrator, and the heartrending isolation of his life's work. The last few pages brought tears to my eyes.
I read this book in two sittings, turning the pages as quickly as I could. I only stumbled slightly over the references to technology - I don't even know if password-protected chat rooms and `VPN tunnels' are fact or fiction - but these moments somehow only added to the credibility of the plot, and increased my belief in it. And that's the beauty of this book; it makes you believe and really makes you wonder.
This is an exceptional debut, and one that I wholeheartedly recommend. I can't wait for the next book in the series! ...