Indie Review: THE CODEX FILE by Miles Etherington

TITLE: The Codex File
AUTHOR: Miles Etherington
PAGES: 264
FORMAT: Kindle
ISBN: 146995303X
BUY IT: Amazon
RATING: 4/5 [in the genre] or 6/10 [all books I’ve read].
FOR: Fans of the Da Vinci Code, V for Vendetta, thrillers, technology, and suspenseful fast-paced plots.

Forget everything you think you know about the internet. If you think nefarious web sites peddling a cocktail of online scams, illegal pornography, racial hatred and vicious computer viruses was all you had to worry about - think again. The government has banned access to the internet and the world wide web, dubbing it an illegal, unregulated zone. Sounds good news doesn't it, until you know that its replacement controls every aspect of your life, from digital content, provision of your gas, water and electricity, and all your money. And with everything and everybody connected, we're all now potential targets if we oppose it. Do you still feel safe? Empowered? Connected? Welcome to the future of the internet. Welcome to the Codex file. Michael Robertson’s family has been murdered to protect the covert government project linked to establishing a new internet. Piecing together what happened leads him to four computers hackers, vehemently opposed to the new network, who provide the only means to hunt down the killers. But uncovering the truth leads to industrial espionage and a plot that leads right to the heart of government as he seeks the truth behind the Codex file.  

I don’t usually read thrillers, but the premise intrigued me enough to check this out. I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next slightly paranoid nerd. I wasn’t disappointed. The Codex File grabs you with a sickly twisted beginning and yanks you through. Even if you aren’t a big fan of Michael (which I was not, especially when he was getting so unnecessarily paranoid) you really want to see those government baddies crucified. Etherington sets up a world that we can all imagine in the not-too-distant future, which makes the possibility of this government conspiracy all the more terrifying. A world where technology is in everything we do and we’re never safe from invasion. Scared me to death, which made for a really compelling plot.

There writing style was generally good for a thriller. Clear and clean, though there were places where extra descriptions could have been taken out to pick up the pace. I was on the fence about the use of multiple character perspectives throughout. It removes much of the surprise, since you already know some of the pitfalls that Michael and his friends will fall into before they do. However, it sacrifices surprise for a strong sense of dramatic irony. You know they’re doomed, and dying to see how they get out of it. The style grew on me, though I think some of the villain-scenes could have been less transparent. What I liked less was the occasional random interlude into someone else’s mind during a Michael-centered scene. We’d be reading about Michael, then all of the sudden, we’d be in Brown’s head. Why were we not always in Brown’s head, I wanted to know. Convenience. A little author trick to reveal details only Brown could know, but I thought the story stood well enough without it.

Overall, I thought that while the book could have used a few copyediting tweaks, it was a fun, compelling read. I really enjoyed it, and could easily see it sitting on a shelf with a major publishing house’s logo on it, after some revision. As it stands, I highly recommend picking it up. Even if you’re not very tech-y, Etherington does a good job of bringing this not-too-distance futuristic world alive, and making the terror and the suspense real and deeply felt. Great atmosphere. Good read.

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