By Ekta R. Garg
September 14, 2016
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
A computer programmer creates an indestructible virus that infects millions of devices and brings the major cities of the country to a standstill. A woman struggles with her failing marriage and making sense of her place in her relationship. Two seemingly disconnected events come together in an inextricable way in Lynn Lipinski’s gripping novel God of the Internet.
In Los Angeles a computer programmer who calls himself G0d_of_Internet is working with the extremist group Islamic Crusade to bring the government of the United States to its knees. He releases a computer virus that begins to multiply and transform in calculated ways. The virus brings first water resources and then electricity to a screeching halt by manipulating the central controls.
Islamic Crusade has a simple demand: the U.S. armed forces need to pull out of all Muslim countries immediately. Pull out, the organization’s representative says, and basic utilities will be restored to L.A., Boston, and all the other large cities that have been targeted. Ignore the demand, and worse events will befall the traitorous West.
Juliana al Dossari fears for her family’s health and safety just like any other resident of L.A., but lately she’s come to worry about her husband more. Or, more specifically, her marriage. It feels like ages since she and her husband, Mahaz, have felt any sort of connection. Mahaz has withdrawn from her in the last several months, and it doesn’t help that the media consultant he hired is young, perky, and oozing with a willingness to please him.
Every couple goes through ups and downs, Juliana thinks, and she stubbornly clings to this belief…until the day Mahaz threatens her. In the heat of an argument, he warns her that if she ever files for divorce he will take their teenage children back to Saudi Arabia. Their children, he adds, have become too spoiled and materialistic anyway. Maybe some time in their home country will remind them how to be grateful.
Shocked, Juliana doesn’t understand how this version of Mahaz could be the same one she married. Their seventeen-year-old son has a medical condition that requires constant monitoring. How could Mahaz even consider taking him to Saudi? And what about their beautiful daughter? Has Mahaz forgotten how women are sidelined in the Middle East?
She can’t spend a lot of free time thinking about his menacing words, however. In an effort to offload tasks he deems less important, Mahaz has tagged Juliana to be his representative on a task force that has assembled to combat the super virus. While the task force much rather prefers Mahaz’s help and expertise—he is a leading expert on computer network security, after all—Juliana joins them instead.
What starts as an assignment meant to demean and distract her, however, becomes a real concern for Juliana. Something about the information the task force has shared doesn’t make sense. She’s equally mystified by Mahaz’s lack of interest in the virus. Little by little her home starts to feel like the inside of one of the infected computers—a toxic environment that is choking the life out of her.
Author Lynn Lipinski begins her book on a high note and doesn’t let the action or the tension dip for long before ratcheting the story back up to another high point. While many cyber thrillers may miss the emotion of other genres, Lipinksi strikes that fine balance. The result is a book that is both exciting and heartfelt.
Readers will have no problem identifying with Juliana. Some might question why she stays in the relationship, but Lipinski answers that question with enough conviction that even those with little familiarity of other cultures will find a modicum of understanding here. A mother will do anything for her children, Lipinski reminds readers, even if that means staying in a situation detrimental to herself.
Other readers might decry the book’s clean-cut lines defining protagonist and antagonist. In a world that fights for political niceties, it’s refreshing to read a book that doesn’t hesitate to name a villain. Some authors might avert the question of responsibility; within the confines of her story, Lipinski looks responsibility dead in the eye.
Equally gripping is Lipinski’s knowledge of just how connected the world has become due to computers and the internet. While there’s no way of knowing whether the scenarios she presents could actually happen, readers certainly can’t deny the plausibility with which she writes. In a word, the situations she poses are frightening.
I highly recommend readers Bookmark God of the Internet.