Liz's Reviews > Lucky Ghost

Lucky Ghost by Matthew Blakstad
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it was amazing
bookshelves: cyberpunk, thriller

It all starts with a new, innovative and modern idea. As always, the idea is something that is normally based on for the good of the people. Nice one, Dani Farr! Add to this idea a nation-worth of people who want to escape reality, mix it with digital currency and all of a sudden, sinister agendas start to emerge.

Dani Farr (jeap, the same firecracker techy coder from Sockpuppet) has yet again graced the people with one of her creations. This time it’s the Strange. A virtual environment where human emotions are traded for Emoticoin, the digital currency.

Real life for some of us is hard, whatever the reason. Anxiety, annoying neighbour, irritating pet, nagging wife, work sucks, etc. The Strange allows you to escape it all… put on your mesh, and with the embedded tattoo on your very body your emotions feed into the virtuality. Can you spell DOOM yet? Then, you can choose an Encounter (kind of like a video game) and live out your ‘life’ with other people who have entered the Strange. In exchange for any kind of activity you will be rewarded emotions like LOVE, REMORSE, RAGE, etc. You can keep track of your emotions by the virtually hovering heart icon that hovers in your vision which indicates your emotional state with various colors. Sounds cool, right?

Except when it’s not cool… you see, where any kind of currency is involved, as I said earlier, the corporations will latch onto it like flies to… you get it! And the sinister plot in Lucky Ghost really evolves around the profiteers finding a way in (because megamind Dani Farr created it, much for her own pleasure at first but it blew into a huge thing) for personal gain at the cost of people’s emotions. I’m talking GRAND scale here! It’s not just about jumping around in the virtual world for people, slapping others or whatever, that gives gains to the profiteers. People and their emotions, livelihoods and even sanity and lives will be risked, threatened and taken by making them do things they don’t realize they’re doing. Now, that is scary! Not so cool, anymore, hey, when the line in between reality and virtuality fades, and your innermost self is laid bare within cooled, security surrounded servers in some warehouse and is nothing more than profitable data to some ambitious businessmen.

If you’ve read Sockpuppet, you’ll know by now that Blakstad doesn’t do simple plots. He weaves together people from all walks of life, puts in the game the big corporations and the government. The character set in Lucky Ghost was again diverse.

To name a few:

Alex Kubelick- An educated ex-vlogger and all around truth seeker of a female who ends up in the middle of everything. She’s married to her partner Harmony and together they battle the anxiety and Strange-addiction that Alex seems to have developed after the crash of her vlog.

Jacko– some call him the leader of hackers, crackers and information age freedom rebels; others don’t know if he even exists! The Godfather of Data, Jacko is seen as the leader in.. on? … Seatopia, a landmark from the war time in the North sea now turned into a data/server farm with good connection.

All sorts of suited up and booted up corporation execs- Mr Ox, Mr Honey Badger, Sean Perce… A lot of macho testosterone wedging boots in between doors to have one up over the next businessman. It’s truly quite amusing and scary…

And then there’s Thimblerig… otherwise known as Abul Ala. A young man living in England after fleeing Syria. Good with tech and out for a good cause, but with a troubled past that casts a shadow over his life in England, as well. The thing with personal demons is (even if those demons aren’t your fault)- they follow you wherever you go! Sadly…

In the most exciting and innovative manner, Blakstad pulls out all the stops and embeds so much of society’s current state into a book that mirrors the status quo modern day, connected life but also includes an element of futuristic possibilities. I am talking appearances of people’s holograms (‘ghosts’) in the room to have a discussion because good old smartphones are so ‘yesterday‘. There’s driverless taxis and cars and bikes that appear when you tell your mesh while connected to the Strange to come and pick you up from your location… Like uber Uber (sorry, couldn’t help myself!)

Anyway, the book starts off by throwing you right into the action within the Strange and you’ll hardly get a chance to take a breath from the suspense until the last page. The plot snowballs into epic proportions! Yes, there’s plenty of hacker/cracker action and maybe you don’t know what sysadmin means and there’s some ‘coder’ chat room talk but just enjoy it! You don’t have to be an IT specialist to get the idea. (As a side note I want to mention here that some reviewers have made an issue out of some language used in dialogue, especially in Sockpuppet, and just, please, the dialogues are keeping with the theme, so try not to be so anal about it and thanks! If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but before you rip the book apart because of this reason, understand that you can hardly make coders/hackers interact with each other in Posh English.)

Lucky Ghost in it’s themes and delivery is brave, bold and dare I say, even, ominous! The whole of society and its good and bad in a single book casting a wide net over past, present and possibly even future. A look at humanity at its best and its worst. When you would have to fight for your life’s worth of work, how far would you go?

With plenty of chases, action, bullets being fired, the question is, who will survive? The ones who are out seeking the truth and keeping information free? Or the already rich who are after even more profit? Who would you say has the most to lose and a better motive to fight at the cost of lives?

Anyway, you have probably guessed at this stage that Blakstad has found a solid fan in me. The Martingale Cycle is a wonderfully thrilling series and remember, you don’t have to have a bromance (or the female equivalent of same) with the IT Lords to be able to enjoy these racy novels. You will find relatable characters with real life issues in both Sockpuppet and Lucky Ghost, the difference is- you may develop paranoid tendencies about your virtual trail!
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Reading Progress

May 25, 2017 – Shelved
May 25, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
July 19, 2017 – Started Reading
July 21, 2017 –
page 68
"Good start! Straight into the action..."
July 22, 2017 –
page 86
"300 something pages... I wonder will I manage to finish it over the weekend? I should be adulting... like, painting walls and stuff, but it's so easy to ignore being an adult when you have books!?!"
July 22, 2017 –
page 166
"I wish the whole world was Professor Caron!"
July 24, 2017 –
page 250
"Loving this... probably more than I did love Sockpuppet... o.O"
July 24, 2017 –
page 303
July 27, 2017 –
99.0% "Happy publication day, Lucky Ghost! Review asap today!"
July 27, 2017 – Shelved as: cyberpunk
July 27, 2017 – Shelved as: thriller
July 27, 2017 – Finished Reading

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