Mara's Reviews > Nation of Enemies

Nation of Enemies by H.A. Raynes
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2015-reads, thrill-me, baby-shower-gift-guide, codename-duchess

Full disclosure: I know the author. (Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal.) However, my persistent resistance against the forces of starflation (not a word, but should be), combined with the fact that I'm simply not that nice of a person (there's a reason no one shows me baby pictures anymore) should restore some faith in my reviewer-ly credibility.

Social Engineering & (Not-So-Distant-) Future Crimes
I don't know much about the book biz (I assume it takes more than, say, six-weeks to write, edit, and publish a novel), but I do know a thing or two about Moore's Law and exponential growth. So, I'm pretty confident that there are quite a few elements of Nation of Enemies that were much more “futuristic” at the book's inception than they are now. “House, play acoustic channel” is a real thing that real people say, courtesy of various Internet of Things (IoT) contraptions. I'm no technophobe.* However, innovation is almost always accompanied by risk.† That risk, of course, usually comes in the form of other people.
Singularity Graphic
Such is the case in the year 2032– modern day technologies and policies (electronic health records, “embryo profiling,” geolocation etc.) are taken to their extremes, and mixed with a hearty dose of a Brave New World -style caste system, leaving citizens' lives all but dictated by MedID numbers (conveniently implanted into their forearms‡). Oh, and also, it's an election year. So, as you might imagine, the surveillance state is in full swing.

Conway Stern Hand

Cast o' Characters
One of my favorite things about this book is that it's not a clear-cut case of good versus evil. The tension between liberty and security doesn't grow out of malice. Don't get me wrong, you've got some decidedly villainous players skulking around, but it's a world of tradeoffs— decisions have consequences, and there's a selfish side to everyone involved. That being said, certain individuals piqued my interest more than others.

Taylor Hensley is a single mother, graffiti artist, and daughter of the Boston Brahmin-esque presidential candidate. Basically, it would be as though Shepard Fairey (of HOPE poster fame) was Mitt Romney's son. Plus, she skedaddles about rooftops using suction cups, which is just so badass.

Lana suction climbing

It's actually incredibly difficult to give my two-cents on almost any character without giving something away. Between the layers of deception (there are a lot of them), and my own fickle nature, I ran hot and cold with almost everyone.

So…
What separates this book from its catch-me-if-you-can kin is its tolerance for moral ambiguity. In a world of limited resources, wicked problems exist, and these problems have no definitive answers. At one point, a character reflects “How could we have brought another child into this world? What have we done?” And I found myself thinking, yeah— what were you thinking?!? (And not just for the same reasons that I found Baby Hater so gosh darn enjoyable). The story ends, but it doesn't feel like the conversation's over—and I like that.
_________________________________
* I'm literally a member of Data Analysts for Social Good . And not just because that makes such great pick-up line.
† Pick up a copy of Future Crimes , if you're in the mood to thoroughly terrify yourself with some non-fiction insight into these emerging vulnerabilities.
‡ Though, in this case, said forearms don't seem to feature vanadium bones.
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Reading Progress

May 25, 2015 – Shelved (Kindle Edition)
May 25, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read (Kindle Edition)
August 18, 2015 – Started Reading
August 18, 2015 – Shelved
August 18, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015-reads
August 18, 2015 – Shelved as: thrill-me
August 18, 2015 –
10.0% "Want to really up your paranoia levels? Read this concurrently with Marc Goodman's non-fiction Future Crimes. You'll never believe the government isn't watching you again!*\n \n * Yes, I used a double negative— I'm going rogue!"
August 19, 2015 –
74.0% "If you've read (or started to read) this book, you'll know why it tickled me to discover that I am precisely 74% done (that one point means everything)!"
August 19, 2015 – Finished Reading
August 20, 2015 – Shelved as: baby-shower-gift-guide
August 20, 2015 – Shelved as: codename-duchess

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve I can't see how any member of Data Analysts for Social Good could be anything but a fair and unbiased arbiter star worthiness. And that mean spirit you mentioned, along with a chintzy nature to accompany it, gives credibility to any high rating you bestow. Four stars under these circumstances must be awfully good.

Shepard Fairey is cool, but Exit Through the Gift Shop convinced me that Banksy is even more so.


message 2: by Mara (last edited Aug 24, 2015 02:12PM) (new) - added it

Mara Steve wrote: "Shepard Fairey is cool, but Exit Through the Gift Shop convinced me that Banksy is even more so."

Agreed, but I couldn't think of an appropriate analogue vis-à-vis the father figure, other than to suggest that Banksy's dad was this soldier…




message 3: by Steve (new)

Steve No, your Fairey - Romney link was perfect. But thanks for the Banksy pic in your last comment. I wonder if he used suction cups.


message 4: by Mara (new) - added it

Mara Steve wrote: "No, your Fairey - Romney link was perfect. But thanks for the Banksy pic in your last comment. I wonder if he used suction cups."

One can only hope... You've gotta be nimble to be a cutting edge artist these days!


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