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Buzz by Anders de la Motte

Published in Sweden in 2011; published in translation by Atria/Emily Bestler Books on January 7, 2014

After the excitement of Game, HP is restless. He has money and nothing but leisure time, but he begins the second novel of the Game trilogy in hiding, certain that the people who control the Game are after him. When he finds himself suspected of murder in a rather inhospitable country, the reader wonders whether this is part of the Vast Global Conspiracy that revealed itself in the first novel. To get himself into this mess, HP has behaved stupidly, but that's the story of his life. His sister, meanwhile, is searching for the blogger who is ruining her career.

HP's story eventually goes in a different direction as HP finds a job as an internet troll. Anders de la Motte has some interesting thoughts on the impossible task of controlling the internet. One small measure of control is exerted by professional trolls who are paid to leave encouraging or disparaging comments on social networking sites and blogs, praising a client's products and disparaging a client's detractors, writing posts that are fronted by actual (or created) bloggers. If they can't control the internet, they can at least influence trends and "steer the buzz in a direction that suits our clients." Carried to an extreme (as thrillers tend to do), the manipulation of internet content is a way to make the truth disappear. Of course, you don't need to carry the concept to an extreme to appreciate how much of this is going on in the real world.

Unlike many middle novels of a trilogy that seem like filler between two novels that tell most of the story, Buzz advances the overall plot, although not by much. While the first half of Buzz does seem like filler, it eventually tells a self-contained story that readers who have not read Game could enjoy. There is less character development in Buzz than in Game, but the story is smarter and more original than the story told in the first novel. If left me looking forward to the final novel.


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