Review: Haze, by Brandon J. Barnard

Haze

So I was asked to review this book, and typically when I’m asked to do something like that I go into them really expecting much, thinking I’ll just have to pick out a few nice things to comment on and gloss over everything else. But in this case there was no need for that as I actually really, really liked this story.

It’s set in London in the future year 2071, and the air pollution levels have gotten so bad that venturing outside for any length of time requires wearing a gas mask.  How the world came to be this way isn’t really important, as this story is a psychological thriller that centres around Jack Decker.  The setting just serves to create an eerie, claustrophobic atmosphere in a world that at first glance is very familiar yet is not.

Jack works in an office like a great many other people (I’m not exactly sure what his office does; I just know it involves a lot of typing and graphs, probably), and his main hobby is Digital Diving – a kind of virtual reality where I guess the computer is essentially feeding dreams right into your brain, stimulating all the different areas to immerse the user completely in its artificial world.  It’s rather like lucid dreaming – when you’re having a dream, but you realise it’s a dream and can take control of it.  Some people attempt to deliberately induce lucid dreaming in real life, but there are certain risks to doing that.

Which brings us back to Jack, who one day meets a new girl in his office eating doughnuts – the titular Haze, and… the trouble is I can’t really say much more without completely spoiling it.  Suffice to say, there are quite a few twists and turns as Jack’s relationship with this girl develops. We also start to see flashbacks of Jack’s life as an art student college, all leading him to this point.

My only gripe is a couple of little pop culture references that seemed out of place in the year 2071.  For example:

‘With the world now visible and tinted like an Eiffel 65 song he made his way to the nearest automated bus station.’

Would anyone still know Eiffel 65 in 2071?  I mean, I know we still talk about some artists and classic composers from years ago, but… Eiffel 65?  Maybe that’s the only music from our time that survives into the future.  Now that’s a horrifying thought.

If you like psychological stories or manga/anime, then I think you will like this.

You can get it here, from Amazon.

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