Winner — Best General Fiction — 2017 Green Book Festival
San Francisco activist Christopher Kalman has little to show for years spent organizing non-violent marches, speak-outs, blockades, and shutdowns for social and environmental justice. When a shadowy eco-saboteur proposes an attack on genetically engineered agriculture, Christopher is ripe to be drawn into a more dangerous game. His certainty that humankind stands on the brink of ecological ruin drives Christopher to reckless acts and rash alliances, pitting grave personal risk against conscientious passion.
A thirty-something, underemployed layout artist, Christopher lives in a ramshackle activist collective–the Triangle–named for its Duboce Triangle neighborhood in the heart of San Francisco. Christopher and his chosen family are determined to carry on the good fight; yet the raging war in Iraq, begun in the face of peaceful protests by millions across the globe, has shaken the Triangle’s faith in the value of nonviolent dissent.
Chagall, an eco-saboteur practiced in the art of demolition, partners with an anonymous hacker who proposes an online media blitz he can detonate “at thermonuclear scale” to augment Chagall’s brick-and-mortar spectacle. Chagall invites Christopher into their developing plot to deal genetically-engineered Frankenfood a serious blow. Assured that no one will be hurt, and lured by the promise of a vast audience, Christopher contemplates writing the mother of all political manifestos.
Allison Rayle leads the Triangle’s preparations to blockade the Bay Bridge on the opening day of an international biotech meeting, to protest the environmental risks of releasing genetically modified organisms into the wild. Their aim: to hang a massive banner from the bridge’s westernmost tower at the peak of rush hour.
When the Triangle collides with Chagall’s plot to destroy a midwestern research lab, the fallout threatens everything and everyone Christopher has ever loved.
|Publisher:||Salted Rose Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.77(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By Steve Masover
Salted Rose PressCopyright © 2015 Steve Masover
All rights reserved.
If he was going to play secret agent, Christopher Kalman needed to head for the bus. It would be simpler to log into online chat from where he sat in the Triangle's third-floor library, but he couldn't put his home and political collective at risk. The chat could be traced. Besides, he'd given Chagall his word.
It would cost an hour to take a circuitous, backtracking route to the Daily Grind, a café on the far side of San Francisco that sold internet access for cash. Chagall was fixated on that sort of paranoid rigor. Christopher didn't see the need, not if they were careful with security protocols. But he'd promised to take precautions against being tailed to their first real-time appointment.
The prospect of "meeting" the self-proclaimed saboteur made Christopher antsy. If his anonymous contact was a setup, or if Chagall were seriously dangerous, internet chat would place Christopher — and everyone he worked with — that much closer to an unknown threat.
He stared at the progress bar on his monitor. The Moscone Center's floor plans were nearly finished downloading, but he wouldn't have time to look them over until later. Not a problem. The coalition organizing to disrupt the International GeneSynth Convention wasn't meeting until Sunday. Still, the pressure was on. A month and a half remained before the conference opened, but the Triangle was planning a clandestine action in addition to their part in the public protest. The dual-track activism had been straining Christopher's limits even before Chagall came knocking.
Ninety percent complete.
Logistics research lacked the chaotic zing of an actual demonstration, but at least it satisfied his urge to put the world in order. The mantel clock showed 2:40. An hour and twenty minutes until their online rendezvous. He needed to hustle.
Christopher switched off the monitor when the download finished, and unkinked himself from a chair rescued years before from some forgotten curb, a sturdy, Mission-style piece that he could never quite adjust to fit his tall, barrel-chested frame. He descended the wooden stairs quietly, in case Marty was asleep. Christopher stopped to check on his housecomrade, leaning in through the half-closed door of the bedroom next to his own, at the front of the collective's century-old Edwardian.
"Who's that?" Marty grunted.
The curtains were drawn across the bedroom's bay windows. Christopher could just make out a ghostly arm raised against the light leaking in from the hallway. "It's Chris," he said. "I'm heading out. It'll be an hour or so before Jonah's back from school — can I get you anything?" Marty had taken a nasty fall off his bike the evening before, just a few blocks from home. He'd resisted a trip to the emergency room, but when Nora brought him home from the hospital the back of his shaved head was quilted with stitches and surgical tape.
"No, Chris. Nothin'," Marty said. "Just waitin' for the drugs to kick in."
Marty's Irish brogue, faint but discernible after a dozen years living in the States, sounded thicker than usual. Christopher figured it was the painkillers. "I'll leave the door open a crack," he said, "so Jonah remembers to look in."
"That's good. I'll be okay, just tryin' to sleep it off."
Christopher loaded up his messenger bag, crept another flight down to the front stoop, slipped quietly through the building's steel gate, and turned onto the tree-shaded street. Just short of the metro stop, he pivoted up Fillmore, then zigzagged around the hulking US Mint before heading north again.
Someone had postered the neighborhood's telephone poles with calls to march on the anniversary of the Iraq War. The flyers demoralized Christopher, one staple-studded wooden pole after another. He crossed the street to avoid them. Direct Action to Stop the War had mounted the Bay Area's share of the biggest protests in human history — eleven million people around the world, two hundred thousand in San Francisco alone — and five weeks later the US launched an airstrike on Baghdad. The Triangle, everyone they knew, every leftist group they'd ever organized with, had given everything they had. And they lost.
* * *
Three buses and two transfers later he set out on foot in the wrong direction, then circled an unnecessary block as he looped back toward the café. Christopher was drawing on techniques he'd picked up over years of evading police after rowdy demonstrations, or after wheat pasting agitprop on bus shelters and banks. He stopped in front of a jewelry store window to watch the street's reflection. The glass mirrored a face that was beginning to seem more his father's than Christopher's own: sharp, wide-set eyes planted amid blurrier features, dark hair receding as inexorably as the polar ice caps. He would turn thirty-five in May. A milestone, but was he on the right road? "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," he muttered to himself. The cliché did little to settle his nerves.
If anyone had been following, he'd shaken the tail. Retrieving a battered, gray fedora from his messenger bag, Christopher approached the Daily Grind. He never wore hats and felt sheepish playing dress up, but the café ran a webcam aimed out from the counter. He hoped to find an off-camera table. The hat was just in case.
In case of what remained fuzzy.
So far, all he really knew was that an anonymous persona had contacted him, insisted on taking elaborate measures against police surveillance, then asked him to draft a manifesto about Frankenfood. Chagall refused to supply even a nom de guerre; Christopher settled on naming him after a painter his mother had loved. From Chagall's guarded first contact through an intricate set of formalities involving encryption keys and single-use e-mail addresses, it took weeks for the saboteur to get to his point:
We're looking for a writer to produce a political manifesto on genetically engineered agriculture. Publicly posted material suggests your views are close to ours. In the wake of spectacular political theater, my partners and I offer a staggeringly large and broad audience. All actors to remain anonymous, including writer. Action's logistics stay secret until it happens. The audience for your manifesto is everybody who reads news and anybody with an e-mail address.
As Chagall kept reminding him, there was nothing illegal about writing political screeds. And the task was right up Christopher's alley. He was an activist. He wrote. Genetic engineering was already on his publicly discoverable docket because of organizing against GeneSynth. None of which explained the hypervigilance. Unless Chagall meant spectacularly destructive when he bragged about political theater, his caution around drafting piecework propaganda arced way over the top.
Any activist would covet a staggeringly large audience, but Christopher remained skeptical. Odds were good that his anonymous contact would turn out to be a blowhard, the type who imagined that being targeted by police proved revolutionary cred. He could be a reckless fool. He could even be a cop himself: Chagall's approach might ultimately boil down to an FBI phishing expedition. Christopher was the one who insisted they communicate over IRC, internet relay chat. In real time, he stood a better chance of taking Chagall's measure.
Leaving his bag at a vacant table, Christopher kept the fedora pulled low, shielding himself from the webcam above the register. He paid for a double cappuccino and an hour's wireless. Back at the table he booted his laptop into a secondary operating system. Linux loaded, and he verified the machine was spoofing a counterfeit network card.
At the tail end of the dot-com boom, Christopher had taken a secure activism workshop taught by an affinity group called Rebel Geeks. There hadn't been much call for expertise in network protection over the years since, not among his crowd. But without some kind of background, Chagall's instructions would have tied him in knots. He fired up chat software, engaged his encryption keys, and typed the URL Chagall had supplied.
Six minutes 'til the scheduled meet-up. His table was beyond the camera's field of view, so Christopher stuffed the fedora into his bag.
He looked around the café. The Marina was a far cry from the Castro or the Haight. Only the women wore makeup; none had their lips pierced. A melancholy track from Beck's Sea Change played on the sound system.
A woman in a flashy ski jacket and worn sweatpants sat by the window, staring as if frozen at a gruesome photo on the front page of the New York Times. He'd seen it online that morning. Four commuter trains had been bombed in Madrid the day before, their carriages ripped open, jagged with savagely torn steel. The news was a jumble of blame and speculation: Al Qaeda, Basque separatists, unknown fanatics. Even seeing the image from a distance, he felt suffocated by the horror. Nearly two hundred dead. He shifted his gaze to a burly Central American lugging a bus tub into the back room.
Chagall logged in exactly on time.
CHAGALL: All clear?
CHRIS: Present & accounted for.
CHAGALL: If you need to stop this session for any reason, don't wait to explain.
CHRIS: Understood. Everybody in my part of the world is looking at news of yesterday's incident in Spain.
CHAGALL: That type of incident has nothing to do with us. I don't want to know about your part of the world. Let's keep to necessities.
CHRIS: Okay. Strictly business then.
CHAGALL: Right. And it's your move, you requested this.
Nothing to do with us was the response Christopher wanted to hear. But Chagall was as gruff in real-time as in e-mail. Christopher would have to stay on point and hold his ground.
CHRIS: Let's say you screw up whatever it is you're planning to do. What protects me from taking your fall?
CHAGALL: Fair question. Begin with this. First contact through your public address was a needle in a large haystack. Now messages are anonymized, encrypted, deleted after reading.
CHRIS: What if e-mail is intercepted, or archived and hacked?
CHAGALL: Highly improbable. Even so, your part is just words. Theoretical. Justification for types of action taken for types of reasons. Worst is you'd be reviled for ideas. Admired too, by some.
CHRIS: Hope springs eternal. But I'm a conspirator via our contact.
CHAGALL: Conspiracy to express political speech. Delete communications as agreed, and even that much is speculative.
CHRIS: So my protection is to remain in the dark.
Christopher sipped at his coffee while waiting for Chagall to compose, encrypt, and send his response. Security slowed their pace. The pauses left him time to think. The saboteur's ideas about insulating Christopher from prosecution were naïve or disingenuous, overlooking how due process had been gutted in the few years since the Al Qaeda attacks. Chagall was ignoring John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban," who was railroaded into a twenty-year sentence after the attorney general publicly distorted a confession compelled by torture. And he seemed blind to José Padilla, a US citizen being held without charges in military prison, for an unproven role in a bomb plot that never got off the drawing board.
CHAGALL: That's a component of your protection, yes. But, again, your identity can't be linked to ours given attention to security.
CHRIS: Let's focus on message, complexity, style. Audience remains undefined. You keep saying "everyone." That's not helpful when trying to set tone and depth.
CHAGALL: Aim for reading level of nationally circulated newspapers or magazines. Must reach diverse sectors, speak across the usual divides. Christian Right to Sierra Club. City and farm. Address human basics, avoid partisan trigger words. Write about rules against identifying GMO food in grocery stores. Regular people have reason to be scared, for their own safety and for their children's. Don't write for professors.
CHRIS: I need to confirm again: no one gets hurt. No one.
CHAGALL: This is fundamental. Same commitment as Planetary Liberation Front and allied groups. Years of hard-core political sabotage and their hands are clean. We adhere to the same principles.
CHRIS: That's fundamental for me also. No compromise on this. But I need to press for at least the category of action. Are you going to burn genetically engineered crops? Destroy a grain silo?
CHAGALL: Will not say.
CHRIS: Bust up a lab, like the Plowshares Eight?
CHAGALL: Priests taking hammers to nuclear weapons is dramatic. Chaining ourselves to microscopes in a soybean research lab would look ridiculous, like a high school science fair. The Plowshares Eight were setting up a courtroom drama. We're not seeking jail time, we intend to be free to act repeatedly. Look, it doesn't serve anyone to describe the plan. Would only increase danger to each of us.
The Feds classified destruction of property as terrorism, whether anyone was injured or not. In the opposite corner, Chagall had compared his own group to the Planetary Liberation Front, which held that attacks on grain silos and fields of genetically modified crops were defensive so long as no one got hurt, defensive because gene splicers were pumping poison into the food supply and the greater biosphere. Because the damage might never be undone, and biotech had to be stopped.
Christopher agreed with the PLF, in principle and from the sidelines. He had never committed hard-core exploits himself. For better or worse, the Triangle's direct action tactics rarely edged past symbolic effect. It wore him down that for all their years of commitment, to their household and to their work, there was so little to show.
But he still had no idea what Chagall meant to do. Or whether he was a cop. Or, if he wasn't, whether he could be trusted to plan and act conscientiously.
Christopher steered their online chat into questions of political philosophy: Subcomandante Marcos and the armed Zapatistas' deference to civil society, Václav Havel's critique of capitalism and communism as two faces of the same technocratic coin. From there he began to tease out the spin Chagall wanted to put on biotech agribusiness. There were any number of approaches possible — contamination of the planet, corporate "ownership" of life, health dangers, hubris. It was a matter of which angle to emphasize.
The politics rolling off his correspondent's keyboard looked genuine. No cop who'd gotten that fluent in progressive arcana would waste his time on the Triangle's brand of nonviolence. He'd be looking for a bigger bust to justify the investment.
Flexing his shoulders, Christopher looked up from the laptop.
It took a second to register her attention.
A dark-eyed, oval-faced woman was gazing right at him. She sat two tables over, and she didn't look away. Instead of lowering her eyes, she offered a dazzling smile. "That looks engrossing," she said.
British accent, he thought. Her voice filled the space between their tables like velvety caramel. "Old college buddy," he improvised. Her teeth glowed, polished ivory against walnut skin. "A lot of instant message bluster for very low stakes."
"And here I thought I was witnessing the birth of café-based day trading."
Christopher grinned. "Honestly, I wouldn't know a bull market from a short sale." Could she possibly be hitting on him? He had to disengage, whether or not. He'd made promises to Chagall. Their elaborate security rites would amount to nothing if someone ID'd him at the Daily Grind, geeking like a madman at such-and-such a time and date. His screen flashed the arrival of a message. "I, um ..." He gestured toward the computer.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have intruded."
"No, no — it's — Paul and I haven't managed to connect in forever." Paul? Who the hell was Paul?
She gave a kind of sideways nod, and returned to her pint glass of milky tea.
Christopher dragged his attention back to the laptop.
CHAGALL: Multiple angles best for inviting all readers to see they have a stake. Your task to balance these as aspects of a single argument.
CHRIS: You can express yourself. Why add me to the mix?
If the saboteur was leveling with him, this was the biggest piece missing from his puzzle. Yet Christopher could barely force himself to keep looking at the screen. Why had a complete stranger struck up a conversation? Could she be a cop?
Don't go there, he told himself. No tinfoil hats. But he couldn't remember the last time a beautiful woman chatted him up. If romance was like weather, his life was a drought. Longing for rain, occasionally taunted by anemic drizzle.
Excerpted from Consequence by Steve Masover. Copyright © 2015 Steve Masover. Excerpted by permission of Salted Rose Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I rarely read novels, preferring non-fiction. But when I do read a novel, I do so because I want to experience a way of living and thinking that is far from my own. Consequence, by Steve Masover, more than met my hopes. It grabbed me and immersed me in the lives and thinking of activists who are committed to doing something "in the time left to pull the earth out of its nose dive," and for whom in the face of the wave of seemingly unfixable insurmountable crises, when "hope dwindles," "paralysis is the coward's response." I watched the images of activists dangling from a bridge, recently, and my measured "liberal" response is to wonder why they would do such a thing, even as I admire and acknowledge how they grabbed my attention ever so briefly and made me think about uncomfortable realities. Consequence introduced me and drew me into this other way of thinking, feeling, being, and living. The novel's characters are so much more than the way the cynical press likes to present "radical" activists: as humorless, full of Bolshevik-style judgment and self-abnegation. Instead, I found living, loving, humorous, thoughtful, frightened, and determined people I care about still -- weeks after finishing the book. The story is a page turner that had my heart pounding with apprehension more than once. And as cliché as it is to say so, I laughed and cried. One of the book's rich offerings is its description of both in-person collective organizing and actions, juxtaposed against the shadowy pseudonymed realm of the Internet's channels for actions, and the value and moral dilemmas in both. This novel is so very timely in its themes. Every time I look at the news there is something that reminds me of Consequence. I can't let go of the questions the book's characters wrestle with, and surprise myself considering more often than I did before reading it, Tolstoy's famous question, "What then must we do?"
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were lovingly developed and the decision points around passion vs. personal risk were heartfelt and thought-provoking. With the world as it is today, Consequence defines and struggles with today's issues in a way that draws the reader in and makes activism the only possible choice. I keep wondering if there will be a Consequence II?
Steve Masover's Consequence is a well-written, page-turning techno-thriller. The story keeps you reading and biting your nails. You have to keep reading because you have to know what happens next. But most of all, Consequence is compellingly thought-provoking concerning political activism. We all want to fight the good fight, but which one? I can think of a good fifty easily. (Just subdivide major causes, like Womens' Rights, or Endangered Species, into specific causes.) And once you've chosen your cause, how far will you go? This question is at the center of Consequence. What are the risks to the activists and to others in raising the bar of political activism? This book is saved from any preaching by the disturbingly real people who are in the protagonist's circle. They may be noble in goals, but like most people, they aren't entirely likable or happy. Believe me, I know these people. Masover's writing is that good. Most interesting to me is the reminder that one of the most powerful tools of political activism is good writing. The protagonist in Consequence uses writing to influence. And Steve Masover himself has written a book that not only is a well-written character-driven thriller, but matters politically and influences politically. We need more books like this. Encore, Encore!
CONSEQUENCE is about small people with a noble idea on the one hand, and a somewhat darker more narcissistic element on the other that operate alone and darkly confident in their isolation. The first group are not flashy people, they are people on the “fringe.” They are the kind of people that in small ways decided that organic food was healthy and started to grow it and by doing so pulled the whole of society with them so that every major grocery store has an organic section, no matter how suspect the store’s idea of "organic" might be. The other group are sure that they have the answer to a society run amok and understand that they are destined to step into the breach, although they are smart enough to know that they will not solve the world's problems with one almighty act. In Masover’s novel both groups are concerned with corporate America’s fixation with GMO’s no matter what the consequence for humanity is. Neither of these groups are going to be embraced by the law (read the book and you will see where these 2 paths lead). The law has come down on the side of the corporations after all. It is one thing to make mumblings against the status quo and it is another thing to get away with throwing a wrench in the spokes of the wheel. There may be consequences. What do you do when you have arrived at the clear understanding that the status quo is pulling the plug on humanity? And no, these small conversations are not for lunatics although they sometimes join in too. After all, our fish comes with a warning that says don’t eat it if you are pregnant (and don't eat it if you are not pregnant), our storms are blowing people off their island homes, we have had wars that have killed 50 million people at time. Is it improbable that six or seven people sitting around a table won’t decide that something has to be done? Is it not possible that a lone wolf might draw similar conclusions? Might you not find yourself in a chat room listening to cynical disbelief? But none of this guarantees you the right to interfere with The Man’s way of life. You are small after all, and so are the people you care about. It is the caring that drives the desperation. This is a fast read – a thriller of sorts – with slow burning questions raised by people you might know, because they are friends or because they hangout at your coffee shop or you sometimes see them at your local bookstore. What do you do about a society moving on a suicidal path? What price will you pay? What will the consequences be? Mr. Masover sifts through these thorny questions with a writer’s subtle hand. You may realize that many of us stand on that fringe. The book has a taste that lingers on the tongue. The questions don’t go away when the book ends.
It's clear that Steve Masover knows political movements from the inside out. But he also knows how to see them from the outside in. In CONSEQUENCE, Masover gives readers a fascinating portrait and a hurtling thriller of a fictional movement and the passionate activists in it. The center of the story, the protagonist, is a computer and encryption-savvy radical who finds himself confronting the urgent political and personal questions that activists often face at the peaks and plateaus of movements. Are we doing enough? How can we be more effective? Is non-violence sufficient in the face of such harm (or such oppression or evil)? The last kinetic third of the book had me so riveted that I didn’t get out of bed one morning - for the first time in probably thirty years. My only ‘criticism’ would be to ask Masover to make this only an initial foray into the issues and characters he has depicted and delved smartly into.
I hope that "Consequence" gets a wide reading, especially by anyone weighing the personal costs of protesting our imperfect social system as a necessary step to improving it. How do you deal with the possibility of unintended but destructive consequences that can flow from your work? How do you deal with the fear of powerful forces that might punish and crush any dissent? Through reading "Consequence," I got to imagine the lives of people I have largely admired but have taken for granted: idealistic leftist activists who take to the street and put their bodies at risk to disrupt normal life to draw attention to crucial issues. I did not have to read far into the book before I developed a fondness for many of the characters of "Consequence." By making me care about the mundane realities, the motivations, and fates of fictional (but richly drawn) activists who are willing to put more of themselves on the line than I am, Masover is challenging me to examine myself and ask, "What more can I be doing to make the world a better place?" Without a doubt, "Consequence" made me squirm at times. Masover described how his characters planned and executed their disruptive, perhaps reckless, plots in such vivid detail that I felt their moral and physical danger in my gut. Thought-provoking and emotionally satisfying book indeed.
I found Consequence ‘s characters relatable, its storyline flowing and engaging, and its politics intriguing. In the background any of us who’ve been active on a particular issue could recognize the book’s wider issues—how far does one go to exercise one’s beliefs and achieve certain ends? Does the original idealism that motivates an individual’s action always remain, or as one compromises with life (and political realities) is principle sacrificed? Any of us who’ve spoken out on any significant social issues will recognize ourselves and these characters in that continuum. A great work mirroring the politics of our moment.
What's not to love about a good environmental activist novel? It is easily sucked me right in, I also am passionate about our food supply and increased use of GMO’s. Not one to put myself out there I have always had the highest level of respect for those that takes the risks for their beliefs. The complex character building and scene descriptions gave real emotion and suspense to this novel, I could see the communal housing and the protest training's as I was reading. I felt the conflict that Chris was experiencing when writing his manifesto; how far would he go to for his belief in the cause, where was the line, and what would he give up for it? His wavering on saving his writing or if he should put it out there first are things that I would do, the constant worry. Great book!
A thoughtful and though-provoking story of activists who are forced to confront how far they will carry their activism. One of the blurbs on the back cover compares the book to The Monkey Wrench Gang, which is interesting, but more for the contrast, I think. I loved Abbey's book when I was younger, but it is a kind of fantasy about ecoterrorism that skirts the impact that planning and executing such acts has on people around those involved. Consequence paints a portrait of people who are committed on a day to day basis to a set of principles, and to living those principles in an effort to make the world a better place. It is the more mundane version of activism that many of us aspire to, and yet most are unwilling to actually live out; the development of these characters is somewhat uneven, but generally very compelling, and some of the smaller scenes will stay with me. However the book turns on a few greater acts that challenge the bounds of what is justifiable, and what is not, when trying to engage a broader population on issues we face. This is the heart of the book, and in his thoughtful treatment of this, Masover brings home what I think it means to be an activist, to those of us who generally watch from the edges.
Consequence is a gripping and timely novel treating themes of activism, resistance, and sacrifice, grappling with the dilemma of whether our beliefs force us into action, and if so, how, to what effect, and at what cost. One of the most remarkable aspects of this novel is that it blends tight, suspenseful plotting and an air of moral urgency with thoughtful characterization, a leisurely and intimate sense of place, and an interrogation of the ambiguities and tensions that activism implies. This is not a novel about a plucky group of activists who Make A Difference and Change The World, nor is it a novel about naïve anti-GMO activists who fail to recognize their own limitations—instead, it does the much more impressive work of complicating any simple point of view on these issues. The radical activists portrayed in Consequence are depicted as relatable, complex, and deeply human, and they are shown to wrestle with their beliefs and their decisions in profoundly honest and real ways. There are no straw men or caricatures in this book, either among the activists who are the protagonists or among other characters who disagree with the activists’ point of view. In a period of increasing and omnipresent political polarization, Masover’s ability to engage with multiple points of view without resorting to shallow stereotyping or sloganeering is both commendable and viscerally refreshing. Another remarkable aspect of this novel is its deeply intimate sense of place. On one hand, as a Bay Area resident, it was simply enjoyable to visualize the various places where scenes in the novel took place – but on the other hand, something deeper is going on in this regard. The activist communities portrayed in this novel could not exist just anywhere, but are the specific product of a unique city with a unique history. The novel juxtaposes a vividly portrayed rootedness in the Bay Area with a plot that pivots around themes of online anonymity and globalization, subtly underscoring another set of tensions that pervade the issue of modern activism. All of that said, I really want to emphasize that this novel was an enjoyable read, with a fast-moving plot and three-dimensional and relatable characters. The themes are serious, for sure, but the reader is not bored. To be sure, in some scenes, characters do have conversations with each other about these issues, but moments like that are the exception rather than the rule, and overall, the novel moves quickly and engagingly towards a suspenseful ending. As a note, I received an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Steve Masover's debut novel was a revelation to me. It was such a new experience to read a book with characters that I recognized as people I have known or could have known. I will leave the plot description to others. This book is about relationships, families-both biological and chosen ones, morality, choices and the consequences that come from all of that. The characters are well-drawn and complex. The dynamics at play between the characters are intricate. None of the people are perfect, all are flawed in real human ways, yet most strive to be kind and caring of each other, human. The story drew me in over the first several chapters and then I could not put the book down till I knew how everything turned out. The descriptions of meetings, decision-making regarding the political actions the group chooses to take were so evocative and brought back a lot of memories for me of meetings I have been in, actions I took part in, etc. This was of a genre I have never read, but I look forward to reading more books like it. I look forward to the next book from this author.
'Consequence' combines fast-paced suspense with beautiful writing and deeply developed, highly believable characters. While it was the suspense that kept me from putting it down once started, several times during the reading I found myself pausing to consider the beauty of a particular turn of phrase. By the end, I felt that I really *knew* the characters populating the story, and, thanks to the wonderfully descriptive language, had also physically inhabited the spaces of their lives. The story exposes the complexity of human relationships beautifully, as well as our individual fallibility, even under the best of intentions. I particularly enjoyed the depth of the family dynamics (of both the natural and the chosen family) and how these influenced the characters' choices. The epilogue cleverly tied up the few niggling discrepancies in the main story line that bothered me as I was reading, and left me both completely satisfied with the ending, and a bit in awe of the skill it took to write it. Reviewer's note: I received an advance copy of 'Consequence' in exchange for my honest review.