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on 8 June 2017
I really enjoyed this novel. The most interesting aspect is the way the main character keeps misinterpreting what is going on around him due to lack of information, poor communications, stress and paranoia. The ending was a bit of a let down although perfectly logical and one that I saw coming from some way off. The author has an easy writing style with none of the spelling and grammar problems that plague many of the self published novels, particularly it seems in this genre.
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on 29 December 2017
An apocalyptic novel with no zombies is always a plus. This is an apocalypse happening in New York just as it is hit by one of the seemingly typical winter snow storms. No internet, no power and, eventually, no water. In a short space of time, the cracks in civilisation start to show.

An event which is not beyond the realms of possibility and becomes increasingly more likely as our reliance on computer technology is a dream or nightmare depending on your point of view.

Ray Smillie
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on 5 March 2015
We take our daily lives for granted, that there will be clean water at the turn of a tap, that stores will provide the food we need and our homes will be warm. And best of all, if things fail, someone will be there to make it all better again. But we forget that, increasingly, there is no 'little man' whose hand controls all the necessities we depend upon. Instead, instruction and control flow through the interconnectedness of cyberspace. If this falls apart...
This story is one to provoke questions about how badly our lives could be shaken apart without the need for bombs, super epidemics or zombies. Told in a simple writing style, the direct first person narrative is compelling and carries the reader relentlessly through the increasingly hostile environment in which our main protagonist, family and friends find themselves trapped. It does not go out of its way to over sensationalise with gratuitous horror but provides a realistic scenario of what could so easily come about when hunger, fear and prejudices combine in even gentle folks trapped in intolerable, life denying circumstances. And that becomes horror enough.
My only criticism is that the final sections of the story feel less well considered than the first three quartets of the book. But it is a small doubt and in no way stops me from heartily recommending this book.
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on 12 December 2013
It's pretty safe to say we all take technology for granted these days. It controls all our communications, utilities and for some people, daily life down the most minute detail. We've become so dependent on technology we could soon be nearing a point where we can't live without it.

But what if we had to?

CyberStorm follows the story of an unprecedented attack on the United States, disabling it's entire communications network and causing massive power outages and disabling utilities, coupled with adverse weather conditions and it's effects on the residents of a New York apartment building seen through the eyes of Mike Mitchell, an upper middle class businessman already struggling to keep his life and family together.

Using whatever means available the residents hunker down for what they hope is a temporary inconvenience but soon learn that they are shut off from the outside world and locked in a desperate fight for survival. Greatly helped by prepper neighbour Chuck who has stockpiled supplies they are hopeful but both external and internal forces are conspiring against our survivors and their circumstances start to deteriorate very quickly.

The pace is steady and realistic and thankfully at no point glamorises the situation the survivors are faced with with silly action sequences or needless Hollywood shootouts. It is a careful study of the depths some people will go to to survive with some going so far as to give up certain aspects of their humanity and decency while others are guided by conscience and the instinct to protect their family at all costs. There are fine moments of suspense and some snappy twists and turns excellently placed throughout carrying the story to it's final satisfying conclusion.

Author Matthew Mather cleverly uses his frankly impressive tech background to great effect at certain points dealing with the very nature and effect of the cyber attack and also where one of the characters cleverly resurrects existing technology to suit their needs, providing an essential advantage to the survivors. At times the story becomes almost educational, and because the world events surrounding the collapse are very real and contemporary, the reader will most certainly at some point look around at the resources available to them and wonder if it's enough and how they would react facing a similar situation.

CyberStorm is a thrilling read. Frightening, thought-provoking yet ultimately entertaining and with as much sentiment as it does adrenaline it is a strong addition to the genre. No small wonder then that 20th Century Fox have bought the movie rights and have announced it will be scripted by House Of Cards screenwriter Bill Kennedy.
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on 13 September 2016
A modern horror story. The computers go down and New York is hit by a heavy snow storm. The power goes out. The water supply fails. The looting starts. The breakdown of a modern urban society.

So it's a parable of what could go wrong. We rely on just in time delivery for pretty much everything and the deliveries stop happening. If we use computers for everything and they fail, what Creek are we up?

Yet in another sense it is a story about human resilience, adaptability and cooperation. So it isn't all bleak. But I found it difficult to read. I could feel the cannibalism creeping up on me and about half way through I had to stop. Just too depressing for me.
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on 14 July 2014
What would you do if Facebook and Twitter went down, and stayed down? You'd do one of two things, pick up the phone and call your real friends or keep checking to see if they were up and running again. But what if the Internet collapsed? Combine that with the entire Eastern Seaboard being blacked out, a series of killer blizzards, an outbreak of bird flu and you have the plot for Matthew Mather's Cyberstorm.
It makes for impressive reading and with a background in cyber security he's probably writing about possible scenarios and the scariest part of this book is I can imagine it happening for real.
When rogue foreign agents insert a cyberbomb into the system that begins to shut down power grids no one thinks it's going to last long but when a killer snowstorm blankets New York, shutting it off from the outside world. China and American are facing off against each other in the Pacific and rumours of a bird flu epidemic stretch the emergency services to their utmost. Civilisation begins to fracture as the normally stubborn New Yorkers become more desperate and then the horror begins to manifest itself as looting gives way to murder and cannibalism.
We see this through the eyes of Mark Mitchell who is only trying to keep his wife and young son alive until the cavalry arrives. In this he is helped by his next door neighbour and best friend, Chuck and his wife, the Borodins, Russian emigres and a small band of brothers and sisters. The story itself is excrutiatingly slow as they forage for food and discuss how this could have happened to us here in America, but the slow pace just draws you deeper and deeper into the story until you feel as if you are right there. When they make a break for it and head across the river for safety they jump from the frying pan into the fire. The ending will leave you with a sense of relief and perhaps you might think to stock up on basic survival food and gear, and do a little homework on how to hack cell phones.
He's done his homework and there's something of the lecturer coming through in the conversations the characters have as they wait for the cavalry that never comes but I didn't feel that slowed the story down, rather it gave you time to draw breath until the next daring exploit. This is a cautionary tale about the thin veneer of civilisation and the rapid descent from civilised man to wild animal. We think we are so clever with our smart tvs, iPhones, tablets, refrigerators that can send emails and computers that can pilot a spaceship all the way to Mars. But in the majesty of our cleverness lies the seeds of our destruction because most of the vital infrastructure depends to a large extent on computers. Technology has enriched our lives but over reliance on technology can lead to our destruction.
Cyberstorm is a story that should be read by anyone involved in cyber security or essential infrastructure because it could happen. A well deserved five stars for a good page turner.
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on 26 December 2015
I really wasn't too sure what to make of this at first. I bought it because the back cover blurb sounded fascinating, but it sat on my shelf for ages before I picked it up. When I did however I devoured the lot in 2 days flat. To say it was compulsive reading is an understatement. I love that the author _really_ understands his tech. It's realistic, honest and not overly scientific. You genuinely feel like what happens could have happened. The only part that grated a little was the Hollywood ending and the 'summary' chapter. I liked that you were left to conclude things for yourself throughout each chapter, wondering what happened to the characters you encounter. But the summary gift wrapped it all a bit, taking the edge off a little. Regardless I bought Matthew Mather's follow-up book and his other title Darknet as a result of the strength of this one, and will be glad to follow this author's progression in the future.
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on 11 October 2013
Seriously dark page turner, or how to frighten yourself to death while reading with a torch in a power cut.
The apocalypse is here - well maybe not quite in the biblical sense, but near enough if you are in NY when the perfect storm of snow, freezing temperatures, lack of electricity, food, water - but with increased levels of disease, starvation and violence - leave you, your pregnant wife, and little child stranded on the 6th floor of your low rise block of flats. So it's not just the cyber attack that's wiped out the services that the metropolis depends on then? No, and it doesn't help if your paranoia is peaking at 11. Just as well your friends are here to help. Not a jolly little number then, but one I just had to keep reading. In a way it's a familiar story, it doesn't matter what the cause of the disaster is (think 28 Days Later, which again is a version of Day of the Triffids) it's the breakdown of society. Human kind is our worst enemy. The weak get strong or one way or another they get eaten. The situation is one that's frighteningly easy to imaging and sympathise with. Mike is not a strong man, he's neurotic, imagining what isn't there, not really socialised but surviving in an urban environment as most of us do, by doing what he must and ignoring the rest. It's a survival trait in a big city where people may or may not be your friends, your competitors, your murderers. Not quite ghosts in the machine we are still dependant on it, so what happens when the machine breaks down? One of the worst things to imagine for me was the high rise buildings. No lifts. No light. 30 plus floors of stairs. No heating, food, water. True horror. And this book does that for you. It leads you hand in hand with Mike as society crumbles, hinting at how much worse it could be. Then tightens another notch, as he does with his belt. I was tempted to give it 4 stars, 3 seems ungenerous, and have wondered why 3 it is. I suppose it was because I wanted to slap Mike very hard on more than one occasion. As I said, he is not a sympathetic character. If I was his wife I would have dumped him well before this, and if life had followed it's expected course so would she. Even allowing for his obvious need to protect his child, and understandable deterioration as things breakdown, I couldn't understand any woman making this marriage last long term. Maybe that was it, the strong women (and they were strong)were tolerant and patient as saints, while Mike was trying to live up to an ideal he couldn't match and didn't even understand, a combination of matcho protectionism and inability to communicate. Maybe I'm being hard on the guy, and his wife is a nicer person than I am, but I can see no long term happy ending and maybe that was the final, invisible nail in this bleak tale
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on 9 December 2015
It is so often said that a book is unputdownable. I haven't read a book for years that I felt that I didn't want to put down, and believe me I read a huge amount of books. This one has a totally believable story line and some characters who seem to come to life. The whole plot develops very realistically and seems to have been very well written as I just had to keep on going with the flow. It is high time we had a proper self published author who can keep us entertained and at the same time wondering how we ourselves would act and react in a similar situation. It is also a pure pleasure not to have to stumble through spelling and grammatical mistakes which seem so prevalent today.
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on 29 May 2013
Book Review: Cyber Storm by Matthew Mather
Reviewed by J Bryden Lloyd

Writing Style - 4.5/5.0 (Excellent)
This is a quite superb first person narrative. I found the characterisation believable and the way the narrator interacts with both his immediate environment and the wider world around him, as the scale of the disaster increases, are well thought through and it is clear to see the work that has gone into this.
The dialogue is nicely balanced, and very often is an excellent link through the descriptive, to pull the reader even further into the story.

Character Development - 5.0/5.0 (Outstanding)
The opening of the story is a minor scene with massive impact; one repeated nearer the end of the book, and to be honest, it needs it. Immediately you are introduced to a group of characters you genuinely feel very little about, and a gathering that reflects the tedium of modern life within a small community. The familiarity between the characters is almost a put-off... but what it serves to the reader, is a perfect slice of `normality'.
When things begin to change around the characters, I found the development of every single one of them was brilliantly drawn. Even the children had an almost preordained pattern to survival, though they were carefully protected from the reality of the situation developing around them.
The plots and sub-plots serve up some superb personalities, all thrown into the same melting pot, all with their own ideas for clawing their way out.

Descriptive - 4.5/5.0 (Excellent)
People, places, environments, atmosphere... so many descriptive targets hit over and over again, as the world changed around the main characters and they were forced to adapt ever-further.
Perhaps some of the descriptive fell back on a knowledge of New York many would not have - me included. But the author keeps the familiarity of the landscape, despite the obvious changes and problems, as the backbone to his characters, and this works brilliantly when he suddenly moves them into a new environment, allowing the reader to share the discomfort, but never relenting on the quality of the work.

Language & Grammar - 4.5/5.0 (Excellent)
I don't recall anything in the grammar or editing that constituted an error. To be frank, I was so engrossed in the read, I likely wouldn't have been bothered if I had.
The use of language, the work and research into the grammatical nuances of the systems and problems, is excellent. The grammar and word selection generally, equally so. I did feel there were one or two times in the book when the dialogue got a little bogged down, usually when there were several things going on, but this was a very minor consideration and one which, in the grand scheme of things, was easy to work through.

Plot - 5.0/5.0 (Outstanding) - NO SPOILERS
"What's the worst that can happen?"
Words we are all guilty of thinking or saying during minor crises in our otherwise uneventful lives. I suppose it is fair to say that this book dumps every single crisis you could think of in the lap of a normal, young family and those living around them.
It shows that disaster is no more or less of an issue, irrespective of how well connected you are, or how well educated, or how rich.
Basically, when the systems stop working and the lights go out, you will either survive or you won't.
The underlying plot is superbly pinned amongst several sub-plots, and cleverly built around the single, subjective view of the narrator who sometimes takes things at face value without properly considering the alternatives.

General - 4.5/5.0 (Excellent)
A thoroughly enjoyable read. Maybe not `impressive' at the outset but as things take off, the story just gets better and better. True-to-life characters combine and face a startling reality as the world around them falls apart.
Everything about this is good. From the cover art to the final flourish at the end. Great read. Excellent story. I'll be looking out for more from this talented writer.

A definite FIVE stars.
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