"Hooked: A Thriller About Love and Other Addictions"
(Reviewed by Guy Savage SEP 28, 2007)
"I was always struck by people’s carelessness around technology. We e-mail off-color jokes and naked political views across a medium that records very conversation forever. Even when we try to erase what we’ve done, we leave traces and footprints. Or, in public settings, we talk on our cell phones about the most intimate matters. Maybe we really don’t care or maybe we secretly just want to get caught--at being ourselves."
I am by no means a Luddite, but I’ll gladly admit that I have a love-hate relationship with some of society’s technological “advancements.” I love my computer and the way it facilitates communication, but I loathe cell phones. In the supermarket, standing in line at the Post Office,and even in the doctor’s office, I am an unwilling eavesdropper to the most banal conversations. Just the other day while on the freeway, someone in a gargantuan SUV was too busy dialing a number on a cell phone to notice my car forcing me to careen out of the way. And my love-hate relationship with technology explains why Matt Richtel’s novel, (his first by the way) Hooked, caught my eye and immediately appealed to me. Touted as a “thriller for the digital era” I was drawn into the plot with the first page, and remained enthralled for the remainder of the novel.
Richtel’s protagonist, Nat Idle, is an interesting fellow. Although he finished medical school with a $100,000 debt in tow, he leaves a medical career behind, and opts, instead, for journalism. This makes him an idealist of sorts, and it’s a characteristic that comes to the fore as the plot develops. When the novel begins, Nat is sitting in an internet café when a mystery woman hands him a note telling him to leave. He pursues the woman, but he loses sight of her just as the cafe explodes behind him.
Now, it’s peculiar enough that he’s warned to leave the café (and so narrowly misses being a casualty), but what’s even stranger is that the note appears to be written by Nat’s girlfriend, Annie, who died 4 years before. After dealing with the antagonistic police lieutenant who’s in charge of the case, and believing that solving the café explosion may lead him to the truth about Annie, Nat begins an investigation of his own. He joins forces with Erin, a waitress and fellow survivor from the Café. She’s interested in solving the mysterious suicide death of her friend, Andy. As Nat and Erin both search for clues to the deaths of those they’ve lost, they plunge into a mystery that involves shady marketing, computer addiction and corporate greed.Matt Richtel is a reporter for The New York Times, and his focus is technology and the Silicon Valley. His expertise is front and central here, and the novel captures both the convenience of our technology-driven lives and the possibilities technology grants to unscrupulous corporations. Hooked is very much a 21st century novel; gripping, innovative, and with a canny eye, the novel explores our dependence on technology while remaining slightly skeptical and wary of the power we render--rather thoughtlessly--to the computers and cell phones that intrude into every aspect of our lives. While Hooked is a thriller (and an excellent one at that), there’s more here than just a damn good read, and when I turned the final page, I found myself slightly disturbed by Richtel’s sinister presentation of the use and misuse of technology in our 21st century lives.
- Amazon readers rating: from 48 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Hooked at MostlyFiction.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Hooked: A Thriller About Love and Other Addictions (June 2007)
- Devil's Plaything: A Mystery for Idle Minds (May 2011)
With Darrin Bell and Theron Heir:
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- Official website for Matt Richtel
- New York Times reporting by Matt Richtel
- MostlyFiction interview with Matt Richtel
- Curled Up review of Hooked
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About the Author:
Matt Richtel grew up in Boulder, Colorado, the son of two avid readers, attended Boulder High School, and obtained a bachelors degree in rhetoric from University of California at Berkeley and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University.
Richtel is an author, journalist, and cartoonist. He covers venture capital, Silicon Valley business and cultural trends, and the video game industry for the New York Times. He also writes stories about telecommunications, personal computing, and the Internet gambling and pornography industries.
In his spare time, Matt writes the syndicated daily comic strip "Rudy Park" (under the pen name of Theron Heir). The strip, launched in 2001, revolves around the lives of regular and occasional patrons at an Internet cafe.
He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Meredith.