An ambitious computer programmer is unknowingly drawn into a dangerous game of espionage.
Lenny Driver’s dream is to work for Blahst, a global social media company that’s the creative gold standard for computer programmers. At the interview, he’s asked to write a program and produces one that would allow for the speedy personalization of posts on the website, but he shows off his arrogance as much as his talent, and the job goes to Mari Velasquez, a classmate from college. Despondent, Lenny takes a lesser job working for professor Ramsey, an academic who is an expert on the mechanisms that make ideas go viral. Lenny writes a new algorithm that essentially encodes those ideas and is able to channel new fundraising dollars to Ramsey’s company, which is devoted to preventing AIDS in the developing world. Later, Lenny returns to Blahst as a guest of Mari, and he inadvertently learns that his interviewer, and Mari’s supervisor, Clayton Malloy, stole his algorithm and took credit for it. Incensed, Lenny discovers another purpose for the program he wrote for professor Ramsey: He can use it to anonymously disseminate targeted rumors about Blahst. The algorithm is even more successful than he anticipates, however. Not only does it prove embarrassing to Blahst, it also torpedoes its stock prices, and Blahst devotes a team of their own to tracking down the source of the rumors. Further, Lenny also unwittingly disrupted a secret government mission to claim mining rights in Africa, and as a result, a shadowy agent doggedly pursues him as well. Debut author Knight is a technology consultant, a professional perch that allows her to paint a realistic (and technologically inventive) picture of the social media cosmos. Also, her story is fascinatingly topical and examines the messy matrix between youthful talent, big business, and government interest that makes up the social media industry. Knight’s writing is crisply lucid if less than literary, though it does sometimes devolve into unconvincing clichés. For example, when trying to ascertain Lenny’s truthfulness, Mari draws his lips into hers, and then declares: “A kiss never lies.”
A fast-paced and intelligently conceived techno-thriller.