As I mentioned in my last post, I was asked to read and review Socialpunk, a new novel by Monica Leonelle. After reading the first 10 chapters in the preview, I anxiously waited to receive my copy of the full text. Thankfully it arrived in my inbox early enough last Thursday for me to load it on my Kindle before leaving for the airport to head to Boston. I just want to give fair warning that the following review may contain spoilers and plot points, so if you don’t like that kind of thing, be aware.
Had I not fallen asleep for the first hour or so of the flight, I probably would have finished the book on the plane. This is huge change of reading pace from Game of Thrones, which I have been making way through (I am in the middle of book five). I suppose my reading speed didn’t really change, so much as the length of Socialpunk is much shorter.
Socialpunk was a fun read, I didn’t want to put the book down while I was in the middle of it. I haven’t read any ”cyberpunk” style books before (that I can think of off the top of my head), but I did enjoy this one. It seems to me to be a fairly traditional, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi novel and love story. I can see a lot of parallels to other sci-fi stories spanning the years from Logan’s Run to The Matrix, including an almost verbatim reference to The Terminator movies. I have nothing against formulaic stories, I mean six out of seven Harry Potter books had exactly the same story with a slightly different cast and minor details, but I and most of the world still love them. Socialpunk follows the line of girl meets boy, boy takes here from the fake world to the real world where she breaks out her shell of a sheep to become the leader who will save her friends and the world.
Ima/Cinder is a great character, I enjoyed watching her story develop. I thought it was a little unfortunate that instead of really learning to change and growing out of her shell, she is “upgraded.” That area alone leaves so much room for character development, love story development and just more story. I realize the characters are supposed to be working under the time frame of something like a week, but still. She is a character who I found interesting to explore and who I cared about. I have definitely met characters in other books who I really could have cared less about, but Ima/Cinder was not one of those.
One of the other interesting references that I noticed that seemed out of place to me was one to Jane Austin’s Emma. All things considered, had I not just recently worked on the stage adaptation of the book, I probably would not have got the reference. I only question if the target audience of Socialpunk (and even the character who makes the reference) would really know Jane Austin. She wasn’t required reading when I was in school, is she now?
I also noticed a host of little technical issues with the book. To an avid reader you would probably look at them and go “huh?!” and then figure it out and move on. They really amount to a handful of typos, some pronoun and name inconsistencies and a few other small things. My hope is that I was just reading a preview copy that was going to get at least one more once over by the author or her editor before publishing. It didn’t detract from the story at all, but it is something you don’t expect to see in published books.
The last thing that really struck me was length of the book and the ending. Amazon says that the paperback edition is 400 pages. I read it on my Kindle, so pages are kind of meaningless. It took me less than a day to finish the whole book, and then it ended in a place where you might expect your favorite TV sitcom to end. I realize that this is supposed to be the first book in a trilogy, but given the length, I felt you could probably wrap all the books into one and still be happy. On the other hand, I guess maybe I am feeling this way because I was attached to the story and I want to find out what happens next. That is a great way to set up a cliffhanger, if your audience is wanting more!
Overall, I would recommend the book. If you like any of the genres or similar stories that I mentioned before, you will probably like Socialpunk. If you are looking for a fairly fast read (at least until the sequels are ready) then this is also a good book for you. The story has likeable characters with a plot line that is pretty easy to follow, and the story is fun.
Socialpunk is the first book in the Socalpunk Trilogy by Monica Leonelle. Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire (http://proseonfire.com) and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit (http://proseonfire.com/free-writer-toolkit).