Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Stalk me (early review)

de Richard Parker
Exhibit A (25 février 2014)
384 pages - 16.99 $

I thought the idea was original and topical... Internet is full of videos taken by people who not only stop to watch an accident, but film events with little consideration for the victims. I've seen Stalk Me on Netgalley and I thank Exhibit A for the book.

The blurb

Your worst nightmare just went viral…

After being involved in a severe car accident and a vicious roadside assault, Beth Jordan wakes briefly to discover a coach party of students recording the aftermath with their phones.

Beth furiously attacks the crowd before being restrained and lapsing into a coma.

When she wakes in hospital, Beth is horrified when she’s told the video clips have been shared online and that millions of people around the world have now seen the incident.

The driver of the car she collided with has vanished without trace and Beth needs the recordings to help piece together exactly what happened.

But somebody is viciously murdering the owners of the clips and deleting them. What is concealed within those moments and can she find the survivors before the digital fragments of the event disappear forever?

What I think of it

The story mainly focuses on Beth Jordan, who tries to understand why a person could assault when she was crawling out of her car after the accident. She is smart, resourceful and courageous and as we identify with her, we're as resolved as her to discover the truth about these videos. The other characters in the novel appear briefly, often the time of the disappearance of their video, apart from the owner of the latest video and his family that we follow a longer time. So we did not really have time to connect with them, especially since they are not, a priori, really likable. They have put their online video with touts and insulting titles for Beth they name "bitch".

The pace intensifies progressively. Initially, the novel focuses on the return to life of Beth, on her discovery of the death of her husband and the fact that life went on without her. This part is very well led, it allows us to feel Beth's feelings and to understand later how horrible are the online videos. When Beth understands that they disappear go, she tries to contact the owners to find that they die one after the other. From there, the tempo accelerates as Beth must find the other owners before they disappear. Her purpose is both to warn them of the danger and finding what, in the video, is so compromising. What was once a simple quest for Beth who wanted to see the last moments of her husband, while she passed out, eventually became a real enigma. Knowing who wants to remove the video and witnesses and why doing so become her priority... and ours.

I do not like movies where the main character risks her/his life by systematically taking the wrong decision and in which the villain keeps coming back. It has the knack of getting on my nerves - literally. I usually end up yelling at the character "come now, don't go there", "c'mon, end him, or he'll come back!" I must say it's very rare that a character listens to me (if not ever) and when the film ends, the cushion of the couch lost some feathers. This book makes me feel the same way. Beth runs after the truth and harvests trouble but carry on her race anyway. So for fans of this kind of suspense, this book is excellent: go buy it! I must say that the author is very good to describe vivid scenes, especially those of fear and panic.

One thing I liked about Stalk me is the thought behind the story. What society do we form when people film others's misfortune, use it to collect crumbs of glory on the Internet or even make money with it. When people allow themselves to insult a person seen in a video without knowing his history, without knowing the context in which that person is. The ease with which people, sheltered behind the screen, criticize, injure, insult or demean others is present in the book and it reflects reality.

In a nutshell

A very interesting story, a main character in which it's easy to identify yourself, a never ending irritating suspense that blows you away. This is a 3.5/5.

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