Today I am reviewing The Nirvana Effect by Brian Pinkerton as part of the Random Things Blog Tour to celebrate it’s release from Flame Tree Press. Please also check out the other blogs that are taking part in the tour (see the schedule below), and I hope you will pick up the book and support the author.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
No one goes out anymore.
Society is sheltered indoors. The economy is in ruins. People spend their lives addicted to a breakthrough virtual reality technology, desperate for escapism in a troubled world. The Nirvana Effect has taken over.
Aaron and Clarissa are members of a subculture of realists who resist the lure of a fake utopia. They watch in horror as the technology spreads across the country with willing participants who easily forgo their freedoms for false pleasures. When the young couple discovers a plot to enforce compliance for mind control, the battle for free will begins. What started as a playful diversion turns deadly. The future of the human race is at stake.
The Nirvana Effect is an interesting read and at parts chills-inducing. It’s always interesting to read sci-fi that’s set in the near rather than the distant future because this is something much closer to our experience and yet beyond. In this book, it is especially chilling, because it is easy to see elements of the world around us today being carried forward and pushed to the extreme. Perhaps, it is because of the last year, where technology has been a major source of entertainment and communication, while we have been less able to experience the ‘real world’ as we’re used to that this hits harder than it might have pre-2020. However, it is taken further here, and it is an interesting pairing of dystopian literature and sci-fi, that does raise many relevant if troubling.
The worldbuilding was interesting, grounded in the familiar as there was still elements of the world we know alongside the developing technology and the impact that it has had on individuals and society as a whole, and I think that familiarity not only heightens the sheer possibility of the events that unfold but it also allows us as the reader to turn our attention to the sci-fi elements. The idea of a chip being implanted into the human mind isn’t new, and it’s always interesting to see the different limits, uses and systems around that technology. There were two things I particularly liked about Pinkerton’s approach to this technology. First, was the idea of people becoming addicted to the technology and the alternate reality it provided, even to the point of choosing to completely abandon the real world – essentially dying to exist in that virtual world. And then, the driving point of the book – about how this technology could be used by those in power. Here the chips are made compulsory, and that leads to questions of free will, mind control and many other questions. The idea that someone could just ‘stop’ you from doing something, is terrifying, and even the idea that it could be used for good such as to stop criminals doesn’t stop that feeling.
After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
It did feel as though there was a leaning towards a message of ‘avoid technology’, with the idea of going off the grid and joining the resistance, but it didn’t overwhelm the story being told, and The Nirvana Effect is certainly thought-provoking.
The writing was smooth, and it was well-paced, and in amongst the sci-fi and dystopian elements, the author took moments to focus on the human element, with humour and romance and communication. I do have to say though that I struggled a little with the characters. Not with their voices, as Pinkerton does an excellent job of giving the main characters distinct voices and experiences, and Aaron and Clarissa make a good team, but I didn’t find myself quite as invested in them as I wanted to be. Marc, I found a little easier to connect with, perhaps because it felt as though he had more at stake? I will say though, that I found the characters very believable, the dialogue was well-written, and it did feel realistic as we followed their journey and their development and adaptation to the circumstances. Throughout the book, we encounter many people on both sides of the divide, and it was interesting to see the variety of people living in this world and finding ways to deal with the situation.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read and it has certainly left me with many thoughts.
About the Author:
Brian Pinkerton tells stories to frighten, amuse andi ntrigue. He is the author of novels and short stories in the thriller, horror, science fiction and mystery genres. His books include The Gemini Experiment, Abducted (a USA Today bestseller), Vengeance, Anatomy of Evil, Killer’s Diary, Rough Cut, Bender, Killing the Boss and How I Started the Apocalypse (a trilogy). Select titles have also been released asaudio books and in foreign languages. His short stories have appeared in PULP!, Chicago Blues, Zombie Zoology and The Horror Zine.
Brian has been a guest author and panelist at the San Diego Comic Con,American Library Association annual conference, World Horror Convention and many other literary and genre events. His screenplays have finished inthe top 100 of Project Greenlight and top two percent of the Nicholl Fellowship of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Three of the scripts have been compiled in a collection, Unreleased. Brian received his B.A. from the University of Iowa, where he took undergraduate classes of the Iowa Writers Workshop. He received his Master’s Degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Brian lives in the Chicago area and invites you to visit him on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and at http://www.brianpinkerton.com. Brian is also a cartoonist and his web site includes his deranged cartoon series, The Ruts.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.