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    A tangled mess

    I was looking forward to reading Tangle’s Game - I love sci-fi but to be honest you don’t get many standalone sci-fi books on Netgalley. Unfortunately, this one just left me disappointed at its lack of potential. The book started off well - I enjoyed the mention of a credit score that affects the way the world works around you (higher insurance, more expensive items in shops etc) which reminded me very much of the Black Mirror episode ‘Nosedive’. This feature only gets hinted at in the book however which was a bit of a shame. It all came crashing to a halt for me, however, when Amanda got the USB stick. For one I didn’t really understand what was on the disk – blockchains and cryptokitties just aren’t well enough explained to the reader to really spell out the stakes and I didn’t get how any of it was linked to the disk which is a massive plot flaw. I also didn’t really like the fact that the baddies were ‘The Russians’ which made it feel like a 1950s cold war thriller rather than a futuristic sci-fi. By all means have a shady Russian corporation or a particular strand of government or something, but just having everyone screaming about ‘The Russians’ coming to steal their way of life just felt dated. A lot of the story felt over the top and unrealistic – all these government agencies can track her to her door one day but then the next she hides out in her apartment and goes to work unhindered. I also found the characterisation to be particularly poor. There was no one to route for; the main character Amanda is dull, Tangle himself is extremely unlikeable and Ichi seems to flip-flop from being relatively normal to suddenly ranting at people about social justice and race all the time. The only character I actually liked was the AI Tatsu, and even he seemed thinly drawn – just there to solve any problems in the plot if needed. I found myself just being angry at Amanda for most of the story – yes, I understand that you can’t help who you love but Tangle was a man who stole all of her and her family’s life savings, ruined her credit score which we are told affects everything in society and makes her lose her job. Why she’d even slightly help him at all is completely beyond me and she even goes as far as to sort of forgive him? It just makes her very unrelatable and unrealistic in my opinion - there are some things you can forgive people for, but I was just crying out for her to smash the USB stick and tell him to get lost. Overall Tangle’s Game is a tangled mess with confusing plot, poorly drawn characters and unrealistic schemes. Thank you to NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing – Abaddon Books for a copy of the ARC in exchange for a (very) honest review.
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