Given the author’s interesting name, I had to do my research to find out a bit more about John Twelve Hawks before I got into Spark. Call it due diligence, call it whatever you like, but the investigation piqued my interest enough to open the book.
Quick background: John Twelve Hawks, JTW to his fans, is just a pseudonym. No one has ever met the man, or woman, in fact JTW could even be me writing this review for all I know. With any new author, I like to understand a bit about them before I get into them. It’s an advanced version of judging a book by its cover.
JTW’s own personal choice to remain ‘off grid’ definitely lends itself to his fourth novel Spark. In one line it’s a book about a not too distant futuristic dystopian society where the ‘man’ is watching you. Other reviews I read all compared JTW’s writing to a modern take on Orwell’s 1984. Orwell too was just a pseudonym, so it’s probably reasonably fair to assume that JTW has read some of his books.
Spark tells the tale of man with a rather unique, though real disorder, where by he thinks he is dead. Hmm, ok, go on. This of course means he has no human emotions and can do what he likes and not suffer the mental anguish that us normal folk do. Which all goes rather well towards making him a perfect assassin.
It really does. It makes him a perfect and cold killer. JTW describes an Orwellian world where everyone is either micro chipped or has a magnetic swipe card or is being watched via cameras. Everyone’s data is collected by the government and your every movement is tracked. The book also talks of special eye glasses, which may as well just have come right out and called them ‘Google Glasses’, which record video whenever the user wants and is of course hijacked by the government and used to spy on everyone. These sorts of ideas all align perfectly with someone writing under a pseudonym, trying to avoid prying eyes. Mind you, all his big brother type data spying by government has some merit, although I am starting to think that JTW may in fact be Kim Dotcom.
It’s definitely a thriller, it doesn’t ramble on too much about government spying and other conspiracy rubbish. It’s only used to help establish the setting. A world run by a government who employ ‘nubots’, new robots to do all the public service and most other jobs. Practically everyone has a shadow, a voice program that makes Siri look even worse than it is. Given this it’s no wonder that a person who thinks they are dead and no emotions themselves, fits in rather well.
Spark is a new approach to something that has been done ever so slightly before, so it makes it totally new and enjoyable book to get into.
REVIEWER: Drew Thompson
AUTHOR(S): John Twelve Hawks
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House