Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: Shimmer

Summary: In just three years, CEO Robbie Case has grown Core Communications, a data technology company, from 30 people to over 5,000. Now a $20 billion company made legendary by its sudden success, Core is based on a technology no other company can come close to copying, a revolutionary breakthrough known as “drawing blood from a mainframe.” And Robbie, its 35-year-old CEO, is acclaimed worldwide for his vision, leadership and wealth. Except that all of it is based on a lie. The technology doesn’t work, the finances are built on a Ponzi scheme of stock sales and shell corporations, and Robbie is struggling to keep the company alive, to protect the friends who work for him and all that they’ve built. Each day, Robbie tries to push the catastrophe back a little further, while his employees believe that they are all moving closer to “grace,” the day their stock options vest, when they will be made rich for their faith and loyalty and hard work. The details of the lie are all keyed into a shadowy interface that Robbie calls Shimmer, an omniscient mainframe that hides itself, calculates its own collapse, threatens to outsmart its creator and to reveal the corporation’s illegal, fragile underpinnings. Shimmer is the story of a high-tech crusade nearing its end. The shell game Robbie has created is finally running out of room. And Robbie is the only one who knows or who has a chance to make things right. Or is he?

A breathless debut novel that charges the atmosphere with suspense and surprise and delivers complex characters you can root for in spite of their flaws,
Shimmer is Robbie’s race against the truth. -- Unbridled Books

When I first picked up SHIMMER by Eric Barnes, I had a feeling that I might not be the ideal audience for it. SHIMMER is a unique novel in that I would describe it as a "techno thriller." In the past, I used to read a lot of suspense/thriller books; but lately I seem to gravitate more towards historical fiction and women's fiction. It's not that I have anything against thrillers, it's just that they aren't my first book of choice anymore. And, while I definitely enjoyed (and appreciated) SHIMMER, I'm thinking that maybe I should have passed it on for Booking Pap Pap to read and review. I just don't quite know how to review it -- so all I can do is share some of my thoughts about this novel.

Having said all that, I don't want it to sound like I didn't like this book because I definitely did enjoy reading it. There were times when I was reading SHIMMER when I couldn't put it down. I think a lot of credit goes to the author Eric Barnes for creating so much suspense. This isn't one of those books where there is a lot of action. In fact, almost the entire story takes place in Core Communications Office building. However, I could actually feel myself become shaky and nervous along with Robbie as he faced possible exposure to his secrets. This book really did make me feel like I was on a roller-coaster ride. The story was fast-paced and the characters' actions were at times frantic. It was a very suspenseful read!

As mentioned in the book description, this story is based on a high-tech company that was basically operating a Ponzi scheme. I'm going to be honest and say that I am one of the least technologically minded people out there -- I basically shut down at the first mention of computer terms. And while I wasn't really interested in all the computer lingo and understanding how the company worked, I did think the scheme sounded feasible; and I didn't have any problems comprehending what Robbie was doing with his company. So if you are like me and feel a little overwhelmed by the idea behind this book, don't let that deter you from reading it.

I thought Mr. Barnes did a really good job of developing the characters. The majority of the book was written in Robbie's first person voice so the reader really gets inside his mind. Since Robbie had been keeping so many secrets for so long, he was definitely starting to fall apart; and the stress because so many people were dependent on him really came through on every page. I also appreciated how Mr. Barnes threw in very brief chapters about a few of the executive employees which he wrote in third person. These sections let the readers know more about Robbie's co-workers as well as giving them an inkling that Robbie's secrets weren't all that "secret."

Robbie was an extremely interesting and yet a highly flawed character. So often in these types of books, these characters seem to be one-dimensional. That wasn't the case in SHIMMER. I thought the author did a fantastic job of developing Robbie and giving the reader information about his youth. His insecurities, his fear of intimacy, and his guilt were definitely the result of many things that happened in his past. I found Robbie to be a fascinating character but I didn't always like him. What I did find strange, though, was that despite all of Robbie's deception, I found myself liking him and even rooting for his successes!

I don't want to give anything away about the ending, but I think I can't write a review of this book without mentioning it. I thought the ending made the book for me! As my emotions went back and forth about Robbie depending on his actions -- sometimes I liked him and other times I couldn't stand him -- I thought I had him figured out by the end of the book. Suffice it to say that I was a little surprised with how the author ended this story, but I thought it was perfect for this book and these characters.

SHIMMER is available today, June 30, 2009. Thanks to Libby from Unbridled Books for sending me an ARC of SHIMMER.


bermudaonion said...

I bet I'd like this one if you think Booking Pap Pap would like it. Great review.

Cheryl said...

I am currently reading this one. Your thoughts are very nice.

Gayle said...

i liked this review! i blogged about it tonight and linked to you. sounds like a good book. thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I'm halfway through this book and when I first started reading it I was totally with you on the techno part. I just gave it and accepted that I probably don't understand much of what was going on in that respect, but I am enjoying the suspense and the characters. Great review. Can't wait til I get to the end.

Beth F said...

Great review. I might not have picked it up from the description, but I may give a chance now.