Book Review: I Am No One by Patrick Flanery
A Rapid Review
Jeremy’s life begins taking strange turns: boxes containing records of his online activity are delivered to his apartment, a young man seems to be following him, and his elderly mother receives anonymous phone calls slandering her son. Why, he wonders, would anyone want to watch him so closely, and, even more upsetting, why would they alert him to the fact that he was being watched?
The premise is excellent and timely: Jeremy, a history professor recently returned to New York from a decade in England, suddenly begins to receive boxes filled with records of his online activities. Someone is watching him and they have been doing so for many years. They also want him to know he is being watched. Who is doing it and why?
I was expecting not only a mystery, but a thriller — a story that would grab my attention from the first chapter. Instead it was very tedious and detailed. Sentences went on and on. At times incredibly boring. There was a lot of long-winded political commentary and seemingly endless diatribes on “privacy”. I get it. Where’s the plot? Just as I was about to give up near the halfway point, the story picked up the pace. Jeremy isn’t really the “no one” he thinks he is and we start to get some answers.
I figured out the mystery about three-quarters of the way through but finished up the book to see if I was right. The ending, when it finally arrived, was a bit of a let down. Not quite a thriller, this was more a warning on the dangers of unchecked mass surveillance with a little paranoia thrown in. Maybe with a different writing style — I don’t enjoy a lot of stream-of-consciousness dialog — I would have liked it a little better.
The novel was narrated by Steven Crossley. I started this in print but the book was such slow going that I switched to audio thinking a good narrator would make it a bit more interesting for me. And that worked. I enjoyed the way he portrayed Jeremy with a slight British accent and stuffy demeanor that I imagined Jeremy might have.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher and LibraryThing.
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