Version Zero by David Yoon
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Summary from NetGalley:
From the brilliant mind of New York Times bestselling author David Yoon comes a lightning-fast and scorchingly observant thriller about how we can save ourselves from the very real perils of a virtual world.
Max, a data whiz at the social media company Wren, has gotten a firsthand glimpse of the dark side of big tech. When he questions what his company does with the data they collect, he’s fired…then black-balled across Silicon Valley.
With time on his hands and revenge on his mind, Max and his longtime friend (and secretly the love of his life) Akiko, decide to get even by rebooting the internet. After all, in order to fix things, sometimes you have to break them. But when Max and Akiko join forces with a reclusive tech baron, they learn that breaking things can have unintended–and catastrophic–consequences.
ARC provided by Penguin Group via NetGalley for an honest review.
This book and I got off to a bit of a rocky start, but once I was in and committed it ended up being absolutely brilliant. I was so glad it worked out, because I really didn’t want to be disappointed by a book from this author.
The rocky start was mostly due to the language, especially the slang, and somewhat the writing style. It is a science fiction, and it took me a while to figure out that this was a slightly alternate world to the one we currently live in. There are lots of similarities, but there is slightly more advanced tech and the slang and dialogue is very different. But once I had this all figured out, it really was a great look at how technology controls us and how that can be both good, but maybe mostly bad.
I really liked our heroes. Max is a not a perfect hero in any sense of the word, but once he realizes what is going on at his company, he knows that he must do something about it. Most of the story is through his point of view, which was good. It was hard to watch him being fired and then black balled from all tech companies just because he wanted his company to do the right thing. Akido is also a very likable character. She is extremely smart and is actually the one who does all of the hacking and coding, but Max is the one to make the overall plans. They make a good team. Akido’s boyfriend, Shane is more or less the moral support and a little bit of muscle.
Pilot Markham was the reclusive tech baron that they end up teaming up with. He was an interesting fellow. Right from the start I didn’t totally trust him, which ended up being the right call. He does do right for the team in the end though. But I ended up not liking him for his methods, although he does have a sad backstory.
Although the characters are well drawn and make you want to cheer for them, it is the story that really gets you in the end. I loved how it started off as a sort of satire on the whole social media issue of collecting data and what they really do with it. The story does a really nice job of summing up how there really is no such thing as privacy anymore. But it also points out what people are willing to give up in order to keep their social media going. You don’t want to miss out on anything right?
I do have a couple of negatives on the whole book. The ending, or basically the last third of the book, got a little bit weird and violent. I sort of wasn’t expecting the story to go that way, and I’m not totally convinced that it should have. I also got a bit tired of Max pining for Akido constantly. There is an interesting twist on the love triangle here, in that Max is in love with his best friend who also happens to be his other best friend’s girlfriend. As always the emotions and love issues are nicely done.
This book is highly recommended and even though it is being marketed as an adult book, I think there is certainly going to be young adults who are also going to love it. Especially if they are already fans of David Yoon’s other books.