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Ex libris de librum vermis

Stories happen only to those who are able to tell them...

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The Phone Company - David Jacob Knight, D.L. Snell

*I received the ebook copy from Booklikes giveaway but this has not affected my review and rating in any way.

This was the most horrible book I read - I only finish it as a penance for asking it through giveaways (be careful what you wish for) and in order to write this review. I simply cannot give it even one star as it would be unjust towards other books on my list having the same rating while not suffering from lack of style, characters, motivation, meaningful story...

I was interested in this book because whole my career has been around telephony and contact centers, not mentioning technology, and it had that quote from Arthur Clarke in the description ("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."). It also had more than ok reviews. It turned out that it is just a poor mish mash of (badly written) contemporary scares from high school shooting to plane hijacking, from referencing Stephen King (Needful things, Dead zone, King himself, even his famous: "Don't pass go"...) to attempt at tapping Lovecraft, from Invasion of body snatchers to indigenous curse connected to the cracks in the earth, from technology scares to privacy concerns... It is simply a trope of horror commonplaces in which authors keep jumping from one to the other at will.

This novel is attempt at horror but the only horrible thing is the prose itself! Here are some quotes to illustrate:

He realized on some level, in his paranoid reptilian brain, he was afraid Bill might be right. Ever since The Phone Company had blown into town like some weed, everything had started to fall apart. Steve had been the only one to see that, until now. So Bill seemed to be on his side. But at the same time, Steve knew Bill was totally insane.

Steve found himself getting hot from the yolk of sun spilling into his lap.

The sensation shifted, and it felt more like he’d swallowed a bunch of change, which he was pretty sure he hadn’t.

Explicitly admitted absence of motivation:

The Phone Company was evil. Who could even grasp their motives, their needs?

Some unexplained shifts in main character's actions:

He just knew this was his fault, and he could fix it.

then after a couple of paragraphs:

No, he was done saving the world. He had failed, and now it was someone else’s turn to pull the sword from the rock.

On top of that some universal questions:

The question he struggled with the most, though, was this: if there was so much evil in the world, and it was so pervasive, was there an equal or greater opposite force?

and cocktail party topics to amaze:

And now the NSA’s building quantum computers so they can break through any encryption. They can spy on anything they want to, only someone’s already done that. I was looking it up, and I guess Tesla was talking about cell phones over a century ago, can you believe that?

It is an exemplary read of what should be avoided if you are aspiring writer.