BLOG TOUR Proximity – Jem Tugwell

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a free copy of this book in return for a fair and unbiased review

For the first time in 10 years the real me walked free. I savoured every beat of the excitement that pulsed through me’

You can’t get away with anything. Least of all murder. DI Clive Lussac has forgotten how to do his job. Ten years of embedded technology – `iMe’ – has led to complete control and the eradication of crime. Then the impossible happens. A body is found, and the killer is untraceable. With new partner Zoe Jordan, Clive must re-sharpen his detective skills and find the killer without technology, before time runs out for the next victim…

What I thought

The first thing to know and understand about this book is this is a world where technology and monitoring has completely taken over all aspects of life, but not in the traditional sci-fi ways. Its not a world where robots do everything for us, or you only need to eat a single tablet. This is a world where the technology (scarily like a smart phone) is linked to our brains and all machines. If you’ve eaten too much fatty food no machine will give you more for months. Your body is constantly being monitored for unhealthy habits and being forcibly corrected.

It is scary how much it feels like near future and how easy it would be to reach this point, if everyone is tracked then the guilty party of any crime is always going to be found. Technology is the perfect alibi and because it’s part of the person it is infallible. Which is where the story starts, being a police officer is just about plugging the information into a machine – which cannot be bribed or wrong – finding the culprit (not a suspect because you ‘know’ they did it) and then sending them to jail. No need for a trial because you will always have the guilty party, and a computer can give a fair sentence. Someone going missing is impossible and them being killed even more so.

It’s a really interesting world and setting. Crime and procedural with a twist, just the way I like it.

Rather than the setting being secondary to the crime or the other way round they are just as important as each other. Both fuelling the story and the other, the crime wouldn’t be as exciting without the world and the iMe technology but then without the crime there wouldn’t be a story. Just a world that looks perfect at first glance but the more you think about it is as much of a dystopia as the Hunger Games.

Personally I’m more interested in the world than the crime. Although the crime definitely kept me gripped.

Its lack of responsibilty for our actions and being purely outcomes orientated that lead to this world. Driving is dangerous and therefore all cars are self-driving, speeding is dangerous and therefore all cars have a limit of 20mph. In reality (and this is discussed) it’s the fact that drivers aren’t giving all their attention to the road and the car that is dangerous. Instead of blaming the driver for their actions the car takes the blame. We all know and understand that eating unhealthy food in large amounts can lead to health problems but instead of taking the responsibility for that, access to the unhealthy food is limited under the guise that it’s impossible to resist and therefore it’s better for the NHS and the individuals to not have it. Which sounds good on the surface, schools don’t serve unhealthy food every day (thanks Jamie Oliver) because it’s known that kids will pick it and it was part of the obesity crisis. But it’s also like saying “I just couldn’t stop myself raping her, she was too tempting”. The onus isn’t on the action or on the person, it’s on the victim/the thing that you are tempted by.

Because it’s sold as being for the good of the individual and society it’s difficult to argue against. The monitoring keeps you healthy and it stops crime. Why wouldn’t you want that? But it’s also not an opt-in policy, or even an opt-out one. It’s how to you get paid, have access to your money, use the health service or the roads. It’s impossible to be part of this society without using iMe and being monitored.

At one point the story takes you to a place which is set up to be a high-end brothel. But there not performing sex acts or doing things that we would consider heinous. Depravity is eating good food rich in flavour and calories under the pretence of training yourself to fight the temptation.

Its scary because it’s a complete ends-justifty-the-means society and your taught in schools and by everyone around you that it’s all good and better. Zoe is 20 years younger than Clive and can’t understand why he would keep trying to fight the technology to eat more chocolate or complain about it at all. Everyone is healthy and ‘happy’. The ‘thief’ comments that for most people who have grown up with iMe being disconnected is worse than being kidnapped or the threat of death. If you are constantly told that it is there to make your life and other people’s lives better and safer why would you think any different. Especially when the numbers speak for themselves.

The joy at which the self-named ‘Thief’/murderer commits the acts is ominous. It’s not about fighting technology. They obsess over the act of killing in various different ways, draining the body of blood being the first. Being untouchable is one aspect of it but even if this wasn’t a world where crime is supposedly impossible they would be killing anyway for the joy of it.

I didn’t guess the murderer and as the stakes and the tension ramped up putting the book down when I had to return to work became harder and harder. The last quarter became an all out thriller with the speed of the action.

Why I read it

I was sent a free copy for review but I was interested because of the technology and the idea of a world where getting away with murder (literally) is so impossible that crime just doesn’t happen.

Final thought

I really enjoyed this book, it kept me reading and guessing. The world was scary because it’s so easy to see how our current society could end up at this point; purely outcome focused and controlling it’s citizens for the ‘greater good’.

I was happy to see it’s the first book in the series and I look forward to seeing how it continues to develop.

Am I glad I read it? Yeah

Would I read again? Probably

Did I enjoy it? Yes

Would I recommend? I’ll probably suggest his one to my dad and to others who enjoy crime or thrillers.


2 thoughts on “BLOG TOUR Proximity – Jem Tugwell

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