An Islamic fundamentalist known as God of the Internet looks to cripple the United States by attacking various systems involved in the day to day function of our country. Using worms and back doors to various software programs, the hacker throws monkey wrench after monkey wrench into things like water processing, the electrical grid and other things that Americans take for granted in an attempt to cripple our country and bring the United States to its knees.
A group of cyber-security experts try to figure out the next target all while getting various systems back on line as the worm slowly becomes more insidious and clever with each attack. Part of that task force includes Juliana Al-Dossari, the wife of one of the world’s leading authorities on cyber security. Struggling in her marriage, Juliana can’t understand why her husband would put her on the task force instead of taking a leading role himself.
The first third of Lynn Lipinski’s God of the Internet reads like Michael Crichton thriller. Pointing out various all-too-real vulnerabilities in our cyber infrastructure and then seeing them exploited to bring our country to our knees is frightening, but it makes for a compelling, entertaining story.
The problems with God of the Internet begin to arise once the stakes are raised a bit, not only on various systems but also in Julianna’s marriage and personal life. To put it bluntly, I figured out who the mysterious God the Internet was long before any of our task force team of heroes did, leading to long passages in the book where I kept wondering why I could put the clues together but our heroes couldn’t.
And while Julianna has a personal stake in things, including a son with medical issues who could die from the various attacks shutting down crucial systems at the world possible times, I never felt like I was invested enough with the characters to fully engage in their issues.
Where the book does work is in creating tension and creating curiosity about what system will fall next. There’s little doubt that Lipinski did a lot of research and some of the attacks are chilling because they feel entirely plausible.
But overall, the book feels a bit like a Hollywood thriller, complete with various threats ramped up to the n-th degree to drive the drama while the characters are just there to help keep pushing the narrative forward. There are some other characters and character arcs to the book, but they end up feeling as predictable as where Julianna’s story goes.
In the end, this was a quick read and while it was fun, I came away wishing it had been a bit more substantial than the final product ended up being.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.