by Peter Sacks
AIA Publishing

"Those who can’t afford life have just two choices: become a slave to the highest bidder, or die. That, my friend, is liberty."

Suzanne Dreyfus is a brilliant MIT mind who has reached the pinnacle of an inspiring career with her work at the Pentagon. However, it is her heart that sets in motion a collision course with chaos. In Sacks’ narrative, a seemingly harmless romance between Dreyfus and another MIT alum, Garrick Cripps, evolves into a full-fledged plot to eradicate the government and redefine the meaning of liberty. When Dreyfus gifts Garrick the Liberation Manifesto, a satirization of freedom, for his fortieth birthday, an intended joke becomes the catalyst to a so-called movement that threatens the fabric of democracy.

Though Dreyfus is perceived to be the victim of Garrick’s decrepit mind and sinister actions, the narrative regularly allows readers into her mind. What emerges is a conflicted woman whose intelligence is handcuffed by unrequited love, and the tug-of-war that ensues between love and rationale directly shows her waffling back and forth in her allegiance to Garrick. When she finally realizes that Garrick is not going to settle for anything but his delusional dream of a libertarian paradise, the ship has sailed.

There are countless themes that run concurrently throughout the novel, whether that is the extent one will go for love, how humanity can be so fickle that it can be bought for a price, or what makes a killer. At a deeper level, the question of what liberty means to the individual is even more magnified through Garrick’s callous outlook. In a nutshell, he believes that the capitalists are the victims, and the perpetrators are the underserved, disadvantaged communities and minorities who prevent the rich from getting richer.

Ironically, while Suzy Dreyfus fell for Garrick’s charm, Laura Cavendish was unfazed. With Garrick as Laura’s professor and mentor, much of her fate depended on pleasing him, yet in many ways, Laura was the anti-Suzy. Her incredible self-confidence was not contingent on anyone else. As the story progresses and her high school sweetheart turned Navy Seal, Carson McCready, enters the fold, it becomes easy to see how the two are the yin to Suzanne and the yang to Garrick. Laura and McCready are determined to thwart Suzanne and Garrick on a cyber battlefield. Unsurprisingly, one would expect genius masterminds to stray away from brute force, but if their plan fails, do they risk the collapse of their dream or employ a whatever-it-takes attitude? The cliche of the wounded lion striking the hardest is applicable to Garrick’s ego as the plot continues to unfold and life-altering decisions are made.

The experiences of every character seem tailor-made for the moment that brings about a perfect storm of calamitous events. Even characters like FBI Agent Cunningham, who forsakes his duty for a payday from Garrick, is a somewhat sympathetic player. Despite being entrusted with capturing top-priority criminals, Cunningham is still saddled with crippling debt that affects his personal life. More or less, a high-stakes game of chess is taking place, and the board is cyberspace. Garrick and his friend/crony Eurynomos have taken their billionaire status and manipulated everyone in authority, from judges to agents. In short, the survival of the government has the odds stacked against it. The end result is an electrifying and delightful experience for readers, yet one that is highly thought-provoking as they come to recognize that what is being shown to them is not necessarily reality.

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