“Perfect Imperfection” has flavors of Ready Player One meets The Matrix and James Bond with its virtual worlds, mind-machine interfaces, smart AI, and all the sophisticated tech and toys the people in PI get to use. Our main character is no one important when he is alive, but when an accident leaves Billings on the brink of death, he is offered the chance of a lifetime: to “live” in a virtually created world dedicated to benevolence and helping society. The group of PI are virtual super heroes, righting wrongs and anonymously helping law enforcement. The creator of PI has brought together the brightest minds, all agreeing to dwell in this virtual world, advancing and studying in their fields, all while making sure no one finds out about their virtual paradise. That is until a hacker starts seeing the patterns of PI and gets it into his mind that this benevolent organization is going to be his next pay day. Hacker stories are tough because it can be a lot of technical nuance that can be stale to read, and while this was book was easy to understand and it had the potential to be exciting, I struggled to get through the story for the vast majority of the book.
There’s nothing wrong with the writing itself, the book is easy to understand and follow, but it suffers from info dumps that make the book slow to get through, that bury the plot in so much character background information that I struggled to understand what was actually important to know. The author has really thought out his virtual world, the AI, all the different types of drones, and the virtual home’s capabilities, and you can tell the author is incredibly proud of what they have created, as they should be! But, unfortunately, that also means that they share perhaps more than necessary and the excitement of the story suffers for it. While I appreciated that the main character was a regular guy and we get to see him learning how to be extraordinary, after a while it just felt a bit like overkill, and the long pages of dialogue which made for some really long chapters, just got to be too much for me. This isn’t a long book, and the writing is, again, easy to follow, so it shouldn’t take long to get through, but the pacing was slow due to the numerous info dumps that it took much longer to read.
I also wish we had seen more of Blackbeard. Granted, for a world class hacker, he appears more like a traditional pirate—he literally swigs rum as he works—but still. The main conflict was between him and PI, and tangentially Billings who discovers that Blackbeard is on to them (which isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the synopsis), but you don’t get much of that conflict. While Blackbeard gets teased occasionally while he’s off doing his evil deeds, the conflict between PI and Blackbeard doesn’t really come into focus until about 70% into the story, and then it’s over far too fast given the long buildup. The most exciting parts of this book were the first 10% where we are introduced to all the players, and then toward the end where Blackbeard and PI are actually interacting with one another. This book would have been amazing if more time had been spent on these two brilliant and morally opposed super computer geniuses!
The potential for this book is massive, and the way the author takes something potentially very complicated and writes it in an easy to understand way is wonderful. But with all the info dumps, how often the author “tells” rather than “shows” which made characters feel flat and kept me from really getting into them, and the really long chapters made this book harder to get through than necessary for me personally, which is why I am giving it 2 stars. The potential is clearly there, and this author is definitely one to watch for science fiction writing, just this particular book didn’t do it for me the way I thought it would. But thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review.
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