Gregg Sapp's Reviews > Darlingtonia

Darlingtonia by Alba Roja
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In the first hundred or so pages of “Darlingtonia,” the following sentence (or some close variant of it) appears probably a dozen or so times in reference to the book’s main character, Dylan Kinsey: “She checks her Facebook, her Twitter, her Instagram, and her Gmail.” Big mistake, Dylan later learns, for these and other digital venues are tools of a massive corporate plot to beguile and manipulate people through their devices.

Dylan works for a San Francisco tech firm called Oingo Boingo, where she is one of the chief architects of a dynamic, interactive, personalized program called the Childhood Memory Game. Life is good, although she is vaguely troubled by occasional pangs of conscience about social inequality and concerns about her role in contributing to a culture where technology is ubiquitous and could, possibly, be put to nefarious uses if it ever got into the wrong hands. Her ambivalence turns into rage, though, when one of her closest colleagues at work washes up dead in the Bay. Dylan suspects that he was onto something, possibly something that got him killed. She’s determined to learn what that is.

“Darlingtonia” is a cyber-political-thriller with a plucky heroine and a resilient, likable cast of supporting characters. The vast crypto-network of evildoers that Dylan’s sleuthing eventually uncovers somewhat beggars credulity, for in the time-honored tradition of conspiracy theories it involves a rapacious capitalist industry, a corrupt government, a few unwitting accomplices, and a sinister overlord called “the director.” All that's missing is Darth Vader.

What “Darlingtonia” perhaps lacks in originality, though, it makes for in timeliness. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg tried to defend Face Book’s business model of mining personal data for fun and profit to the United States Congress. His obfuscations don't reassure anybody.

Darlingt0nia's author, Alba Roja, tends to become a bit overwrought when she writes lines for Dylan like:

“People don’t want to be slaves!... You trick them into being slaves, you put them in stasis and you make sure they stay that way, all for some dying system that barely works! People aren’t insects, people aren’t subjects. Your shit’s done! I’m the fucking organism that digested you!”

Still, this book deserves credit for its sincere (if sometimes over the top) social consciousness. Think about Darlingtonia the next time you “like” something online.

p.s. I bought this book in my local anarchist book store. Support you local anarchist bookstores!
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Reading Progress

March 26, 2018 – Started Reading
April 26, 2018 – Shelved
April 26, 2018 – Finished Reading

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