Three young adults grapple with the usual thirty-something problems--boredom, authenticity, an omnipotent online oligarchy--in David Shafer's darkly comic debut novel.
The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover, using radical politics, classic spycraft, and technology that makes Big Data look like dial-up. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee.
Leo and Mark were best friends in college, but early adulthood has set them on diverging paths. Growing increasingly disdainful of Mark's platitudes, Leo publishes a withering takedown of his ideas online. But the Committee is reading--and erasing--Leo's words. On the other side of the world, Leila's discoveries about the Committee's far-reaching ambitions threaten to ruin those who are closest to her.
In the spirit of William Gibson and Chuck Palahniuk,Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is both a suspenseful global thriller and an emotionally truthful novel about the struggle to change the world in- and outside your head.
Journalist Shafer hits all the right buttons in his debut as he mixes crime fiction, espionage, and SF in a darkly comic novel about paranoia and big business. A battle for control over all the information in the world has begun. The Committee, an international organization comprising industry and media leaders, has plans to privatize the news, the publishing industry, and all other social media. Dear Diary, an online movement, has set itself up as a formidable enemy of the Committee, using politics, spy craft, and technology to thwart its initiatives. Caught up in this war are Leila Majnoun, a disaffected nonprofit worker; Leo Crane, an unorthodox kindergarten teacher who lives off a modest trust fund; and Mark Deveraux, a drug addict who inadvertently becomes a bogus self-help guru and appears to work for the Committee. At times convoluted but never slack, the plot thrives on a realistic approach while seamlessly switching between such locales as Myanmar, London, and Oregon. The Committee's takeover of the Internet, its ability to change words as they are being typed, and its targeting of enemies' family members evokes a chilling, Orwellian society.
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Brilliant Debut - A Must Read!
Best novel of the summer. Shafer effortlessly combines satire, social commentary with suspense and wit. Rare for a satiric novel, his characters are also psychologically compelling – they take themselves by surprise in way that is both convincing and unsentimental. And without giving away the plot, there is a love letter written by Leo, one of the main characters, that is so good it would be worth waiting for even if the rest of the novel wasn’t as good as it is. There is a growing number of us who are already waiting for Shafer’s next book.
Reading For Pleasure
After struggling this summer to read novels with overly ambitious writing styles, or having to study cryptic character/ancestor charts before I felt prepared to move on to page one, Shafer's novel comes as a much needed breath of fresh air. What? A book that is simply a pleasure to read?
Straightforwardly rendered characters who are also humorous and appealing in multifaceted ways. A plot that draws the reader along, easily, with no turning back to the beginning over and over to re read and dig through exorbitant amounts of flowery "what a great writer I am" details - Shafer is economical and direct with his structure. In fact, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot addresses current day themes such as substance abuse and the internet in the way old fashioned books addressed their issues of the day - for the reader's own pleasure and entertainment, not for author self aggrandizement or to trot out another product from the latest literary genre bandwagon.
Thanks, Mr Shafer, for a book that is actually fun to read.
It's rare to find a literary novel that is also a page-turner and HILARIOUS, and yet here we are. Thank you Mr Shafer for well and truly upping the ante!