Title: No Signal (iMe #2)
Author: Jem Tugwell
Publisher: Serpentine Books
Date of publication: JUNE 4TH 2020
Genre: science-fiction, dystopia
Format reviewed: e-ARC
Rating: 5 stars
In a breathtaking follow-up novel to ‘Proximity’, Serge says it’s the ultimate Augmented Reality game. He’s chosen his Ten carefully – the reckless, driven and strong. He tests them. Ten become Four.
DI Clive Lussac wants to fight the system that controls everything, but he’s ill and losing the people closest to him. In the middle of eco-
protests, he’s lost four tourists.
As Clive’s world unravels, he and his partners DC Ava Miller and DS Zoe Jordan race to find the tourists and the true reason behind the game. It may already be too late.
A CONTROLLED POPULATION
The UK has embedded technology – iMe.
It knows where you are… all the time. It controls what you eat.
It has eradicated crime and made everyone healthy.
A DEVASTATED WORLD
The world is on the brink.
The Government talks but doesn’t act.
It thinks it’s safe.
TIME FOR CHANGE
Who will ignite it?
Who has the determination to see it through?
What will be sacrificed for the cause?
Series are tricky. Dystopian series are even trickier. The setting has to move on along with the characters, you need new limits to the worlds you have created. New problems. New ways to include the characters, while keeping the connection you built in previous installments.
Did my hand tremble in trepidation when I picked No Signal, the second book in the iMe series?
Not at all. Jem Tugwell had blown my mind with Proximity, therefore the only emotion surging through me when I began reading was excitement!
With a snap of his finger, the author had me back to what may be our future. I was welcomed by the UK being watched by a strict governmental system WHICH STILL TELLS YOU WHAT YOU CAN EAT. I am sorry but this particular point scared me to death in the first book, and even though I know it would not have changed, I still cringed when a character was denied what they were craving. iMe doesn’t just act like a boring mom who doesn’t want you to eat too much sugar. It defines your environment – how others see you, what you must do to fit the requirements to be a model inhabitant, everything! You watched 24/7. This has changed the way people live, but also how the police works. But it hasn’t changed cops who were there before iMe was implemented…
Meet Clive. Clive is a character who has a special place in my heart. Old school and depressive, he longs for the days when inspectors were out in the streets chasing the bad guys. Now, it is all about cyber-crimes and drones. No more gut instincts, no investigations as we know it. Clive watches life pass by in the PCU offices. PCU stands for Proximity Crime Unit. It’s basically Clive’s closet. Everyone is supposed to spend some time in the unit before moving to ‘real work.’
Now you have the big picture. I could spend three pages describing the amazing work behing the world-building done by Jem Tugwell. How everything he added to our future perfectly and scarily fits what we know. How when you close your eyes, you can see the drones. How with your eyes open, you can catch a glimpse of your iBuddy ready to give you a message. Technology has a way to seep into our life without us realizing, or resisting it. Well, is it really technology itself, or the people behind it? 😉
If Proximity was a cracking read and a beautifully unique novel bringing the foundation of a society led by powerful men and their machines, No Signal digs deeper.
Players from Europe are sent to The Forbidden Island, known to us as the UK. Why? How? Again Jem Tugwell takes simple things and efficiently turns them into big steps. We don’t even think when we travel. We show our passport and climb into a train, a plane, or a car. You don’t get to set foot on the Forbidden Island so easily. Everyone is being watched, tourists don’t escape the rule. But one thing that technology doesn’t have is the resources from old school days…
I can’t say how much I enjoyed the little details sprinkled in the novel, as weapons in a war between the past and the future. We evolve but our motivations remain the same – money, fame, love. We can check the weather from our bed, but we can’t escape illness, no matter how good the monitoring we’re under is. Clive is again the dinosaur standing alone against a machine that is stronger, more powerful, and ready to do anything.
But since iMe was created, the UK has almost become lazy. Certain to be safe and unbreakable, the system is running, getting improvements along the way without any big changes. Politics talk and argue, but it’s all air. Ring a bell? Realism till the end!
So when the foreigners mentioned earlier manage to slip through the net and begin their game, the world shakes. The fortress is not as safe as it seemed. And once again, Clive comes in handy, with his brain who doesn’t need to be told what to do. Thankfully, Zoe, who previously worked with him, is not far. Neither is young Ava, currently the only other member of the PCU team…
With a mystery on their hand, the police must act fast, but events unfold, and everything gets muddy. Politics are louder than ever, a new church is making religious waves, and Clive is being denied chocolate.
So, after all this. What did I think of the book? What did I like? What didn’t work for me?
Clive is my favorite thing in this series. Still fighting, although even he has to acknowledge that iMe is doing his health some good. On the other side, he is losing his love, Zoe’s mother, to this religious tribe. The way he cares for people, his ‘ancient’ views on what is, what was, and what’s wrong with his surroundings make for such thought-provoking material!
You can’t have a proper hero without sidekicks. Zoe and Ava are splendid, full of life, and balance Clive’s old ways with their freshness. They moved me with their own issues, their needs and hopes. Most of all, they kept my faith in humankind alive. Young but not devoid of opinion and ready to have a clear look on any matter, they prove there might be a right equilibrium between before and after technology brought the UK to the next level.
I found it very clever from the author to have this government-religion-politics triangle at the heart of an explosive and dangerous case. Death doesn’t have the same meaning for everyone and some (many!) use it at their advantage. You can count on those in power to have an agenda and use all they can grab to make their point.
Tension is all around, coming from different angles, but it is not the sole foundation of the book. There is a deeper exploration of our society and the relationships we have. Clive brings a whole range of emotions to the story, without soaking the pages with whining and endless ‘it was better before.’ Pain also visits and it stings, it left me speechless, horrified, heart-broken. Yes, No Signal is a piano on which our fingers are led to play a perfect melody.
I don’t think there is one thing I disliked in this novel. One thing I would say is it was difficult to part with this world. The ending surprised me. Of course, I knew the author would not have his creation destroyed and the country back to something resembling what we know as normal. I had no good idea on how to conclude the novel and tie all the knots. Am I satisfied with my goodbye to Clive and the iMe world? In a way, yes. There is no way back, but there is hope. However, after all this fight and all the turmoil of the chapters I’d just been through, I somehow yearned for something… Except I don’t know what! I guess I’m clingy and it takes time to accept open endings!
No Signal is an outstanding piece of writing. More than just another dystopian novel, it is a perfect example of how important limits are. I had the best time reading it and recommend both Proximity and No Signal to everyone who is looking for a gateway to the future.
Publication date for all formats is June 4th! Pre-order your copy now!
Serpentine Books is running a Copter competition to give a way 2 signed copies of Proximity (UK addresses only)
Follow the link ➡️ http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f46c3de52/?
Check out my review of Proximity!
I would like to thank Serpentine Books for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Jem Tugwell is a crime fiction author with a Crime Writing MA from City University.
NO SIGNAL is the second book in the iMe series and follows his thrilling debut novel PROXIMITY.
Jem is inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. In a past life, Jem had a successful career in technology and investment management, and he lives in Surrey with his wife and dog. He has two great children. Outside of his family and writing, Jem’s loves are snowboarding, old cars and bikes.
Please visit Jem’s website (www.jemtugwell.com) to read more.Follow Jem on:Twitter @JemTugwellFacebook & Instagram JemTugwellAuthor