Book Title: I Am No One
Author: Patrick Flanery
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Date Read: 07/24/16
Pub Day: 07/05/2016
After a decade living in England, Jeremy O’Keefe returns to New York, where he has been hired as a professor of German history at New York University. Though comfortable in his new life, and happy to be near his daughter once again, Jeremy continues to feel the quiet pangs of loneliness. Walking through the city at night, it’s as though he could disappear and no one would even notice.
But soon, Jeremy’s life begins taking strange turns: boxes containing records of his online activity are delivered to his apartment, a young man seems to be following him, and his elderly mother receives anonymous phone calls slandering her son. Why, he wonders, would anyone want to watch him so closely, and, even more upsetting, why would they alert him to the fact that he was being watched?
As Jeremy takes stock of the entanglements that marked his years abroad, he wonders if he has unwittingly committed a crime so serious that he might soon be faced with his own denaturalization. Moving towards a shattering reassessment of what it means to be free in a time of ever more intrusive surveillance, Jeremy is forced to ask himself whether he is ‘no one’, as he believes, or a traitor not just to his country but to everyone around him.
Patrick Flanery is a new author for me; I actually don’t have many acquaintances who have read his books and only found it through the Blogging For Books website. After reading the description, it sounded right up my alley and I requested it immediately. A 3 star review is the hardest to write in my opinion, because while I enjoyed the book, there were some issues I had with it. It’s not a glowing review, but it’s not a negative one either. I just felt the need to clarify as I’ve received many messages recently regarding my 3 star reviews.
Jeremy was a tricky character for me; I didn’t particularly like him as a person, but I did feel sorry for him and sympathetic to his plight. His character was written in an extremely believable voice; you can clearly relate that he is an academic who has experience residing outside the United States. This degree of precision was a huge pro to me, as I questioned everything going on while simultaneously feeling completely at ease with the narrator, as he appeared 100% reliable and trustworthy, or as much as one can while slowly losing his mind. His thoughts would sometimes go into these run on sentences and jumbled phrases that were compulsive but not confusing. I never once felt lost along the story as a reader.
I think my only negative feelings toward this book stem from the fact that, for a novel of suspense, it lacked the pacing and grip that I’ve come to expect from a thriller. After I reached the half way mark, it did seem to speed up a bit, and the ending, while not especially memorable, was satisfactory. Overall I enjoyed the read, it just wasn’t anything to write home about. I would like to mention that the cover is WAY more gorgeous in person than in pictures. The little specks are colored glitter that glisten in the light; truly remarkable against the otherwise bleak art.
I’ve read many reviews debating whether the author’s research and take on surveillance -state is accurate; I really can’t add anything as I know very little about it myself outside of fiction. My conclusion is that I felt he did a fine job writing a fictional novel regarding the subject and that we should keep in mind that it is just that, fiction. This book was not intended to educate its readers on the accuracy of big brother, it was solely meant to entertain the reader, which in my case I would count a success. I think those who like their suspense novels more character than action driven will enjoy this. An intelligent read that I am grateful to have received.
*Many thanks to Penguin Random House for my copy in exchange for an honest review. I’d like to note they sent an additional copy for a giveaway which I’m extremely grateful for as well!