Imagine if you woke up and your coffee machine attacked you. Not outright physically jumped on you, but your coffee is blazingly hot and the pot explodes in your hand. You'd chalk it up as a fluke, right? But what if it escalates? Elevators shutting down with people trapped inside, cars driving themselves, and every computer, phone, and camera watching your every move. John Hawke is about to experience this and more.
Hawke, an accomplished hacker and journalist, has cut all his ties with his past. After being investigated for leaked confidential documents, Hawke lost his job with the Times and only just managed to avoid jail time. Now he's on the fairly straight and narrow, doing everything he can to support his family. He's lucky enough to land a gig writing for a tech magazine and is working on what could be a major story when the end of the world happens.
James Weller, founder of Conn.ect, Inc, has invited Hawke to his office headquarters, granting him unheard of access to the inner sanctum so to speak. Weller was once high up with Eclipse, a company involved in exciting and cutting edge energy sharing ideas based on Weller's work. But Weller was forced to leave, which led to him founding his own start up. And while Conn.ect is a great story on its own, Eclipse is the real goal. Before Weller can really begin to tell his story, though, everything starts to go south. Power goes out and people begin to panic. Hawke and the Conn.ect folks are trying to make their way to one of the city's emergency centers when it finally becomes clear just how bad things have gotten. And now Hawke and everyone connected to Weller have become targets for the authorities and scapegoats to take the fall for who or what is really behind it all.
Nate Kenyon made a name for himself early on with his debut, Bloodstone, which earned him a Stoker nomination. Each of his follow up titles, The Reach, The Bone Factory, and Sparrow Rock, were all received well amongst reviewers and a couple were optioned for film. To date, I've read all of them except Sparrow Rock, and Kenyon's definitely been on my list of horror authors to watch. So of course I was pretty stoked to see that he had a new book coming out. And while technically this is a techno thriller, I personally consider it horror as well.
Kenyon presents a frightening scenario that I find all too possible in this day and age. AI has long been a fear amongst many and comes up a lot as a possible end of everything (Terminator's Skynet, etc). I kind of think my computer is out to get me on a pretty much daily basis so, like I said, tech gone wrong is 100% plausible in my book!
At one point, one of the characters in the book points out exactly how accessible people are through their various connections and paper trails (which are now electronic paper trails). Here you have a pretty typical situation in apocalypse fiction with the main character trying to survive and protect his family - in this case Hawke's major struggle is getting to his family in the first place. But Kenyon's story goes beyond that with Hawke also trying to find a way to get the truth out and hide himself from an entity that has access to every piece of data there is on him, his acquaintances, and his family.
I really loved Hawke as a character. He's smart and driven and the kind of character who can pretty easily think his way out of a tight corner. So while he's facing tough odds, each new idea that comes to him along the way suits his character as Kenyon has presented him, which of course makes the story much more believable as well.
Day One is an all around excellent thriller with a high gore factor and lots of creepy plausibility. I sincerely hope to see more from Kenyon soon, possibly even in the form of a sequel? (I have no idea if that's in the cards for Hawke but it would be great if it was.)