Right now we live in some scary times due to the COVID-19 virus, a crisis that has many leaders or countries thinking of removing some of their people’s privacy rights in order to better protect them. But such a drastic decision could lead to nothing short of a dystopian world, which is what The Price of Safety by Michael C. Bland is trying to depict as well.
The book is a techno-thriller, but dystopia came often to mind as I was reading it. The story happens some 30 years in the future when privacy is an archaic word. There is nothing that the powers to be don’t know about anyone.
Sure, this is a good thing since crime is just about non-existent, but Dray Quintero, an engineer working on the very devices that destroyed people’s privacy has his life upside down when his 19-year-old daughter, Raven, commits a horrible crime, one that due to the current technology will be very difficult to hide from the authorities.
When Kieran, the Federal Agent on his case begins chasing him, it will take Dray everything he knows to not only escape but also save his daughter and protect his family.
While the book was scary in its premise, when you think about all the technology we are using to stay connected to the outside world, such a dystopian future is hardly science fiction. It can actually happen, and that’s scarier than ever. People with all kinds of implants in various parts of the body for genetic enhancement are not something farfetched either, despite first reading about them and seeing them in cyberpunk media. Such devices can instantly transmit a person’s location, and make conversations public to those listening in. We are now closer to such times than ever.
So how can one single person protect his wife and daughters when everything around him is against him? This fast-paced techno-thriller kept me glued to the pages until the last one. The book reminded me of some of Michael Crichton’s novels, and of Minority Report, the popular movie with Tom Cruise. Many of the scenes were quite intense and reprieve was kept to a minimum. There was always something going on, and among all the cyber conspiracies going on, Dray seemed to have everyone as an enemy, including his own government.
While the book was extremely fast-paced and fun to read, just like the Crichton novels, there was a hidden warning about how technology could be turned against humanity when we crave our comfort more than our privacy. It is an intense study that should be read by anyone who believes that privacy is not as important as our everyday convenience.
The Price of Safety was an extremely well-crafted story that not only gave me goosebumps but also made me think. I am looking forward to a sequel.