"I was held captive by the plot."

The Great Firewall

Written by Michael C. Boxall

Genre: Thriller

Book Synopsis

Daniel Skye, “Orson Welles with a laptop,” is a brilliant, unique, and vastly talented software developer. But he’s also obsessed, and he’s been driven to the verge of bankruptcy by the best idea he’s ever had. The Riding Instructor will be a completely new form of entertainment, an interactive movie/game hybrid to be played on tablet computers. As creditors close in he escapes to Shanghai, where his friend Pierre, a guilt-ridden photojournalist, knows people with money. But Pierre is helping protesters in their life-or-death fight against a ruthless property developer.

Desperate to see Pierre’s address book, Daniel helps him send video of an execution over the Great Firewall of Chinese internet surveillance. With his career and his marriage and even his sanity on the line the last thing Daniel needs is distraction from his hunt for funding. But the more he sees of the dirty secrets behind Shanghai’s astonishing growth, the more his sympathy with the protesters' cause deepens.

Eventually he is forced to choose. Should he follow his dream and go home with the money, as his pregnant wife Sophie begs him to do? Or should he listen to his conscience and take on the murderous and immensely powerful property developer who is one of the most powerful men in the China? His decision, made as a hurricane threatens Sophie in Florida and the world’s media gather to cover a carbon-emissions conference in Shanghai, explodes on both sides of the Pacific into the biggest news story in memory.

Bec's Rating

Bec's Review

While not normally a book I would pick up at the bookstore or the library I surprisingly enjoyed reading the Great Firewall. Despite being outside my normal interests I was held captive by the plot and how Daniel’s quest for creditors for his project led him into the dangerous world of Shanghai politics and, to a degree, espionage. This book has a way of hooking its tendrils in you and not letting go, with each subplot making you want to continue reading to discover the outcome. Will Sophie be safe from the hurricane? Will Daniel get the money he needs? And just how will all the journalistic spying play out?

The characters in The Great Firewall themselves were interesting. You have Daniel, who is just a tad too obsessed with his project and desperate to get the money needed. Then there’s Pierre, who gives the appearance of being a bit of a playboy photographer and yet is somehow risking everything to assist in getting out news of the events in Shanghai. Along with these characters are a few side characters who also add to the plot in interesting ways.

And yet despite enjoying it there were times when I felt either there was something missing or that the many subplots were creating a story that was far more complicated than it needed to be. Add to this the fact that this book is the first in a series, leaving some loose ends at the finish and you get a book that falls just short of the perfect 5 stars, but one that is still very much worth the read.

Disclaimer: Not recommended for children due to violence.