Book Review: Shimmer by Eric Barnes

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Shimmer is a story about Robbie Case, a CEO who runs a high-tech company that is built on a lie.

The fictional company, Core Communications, is a provider of high end networking services to mainframe computers. Together with his partner and cousin, Robbie has created an elaborate system that supposedly allows mainframe computers to communicate at impossibly fast speeds.

However the system doesn’t work, and is actually built on a technical and financial Ponzi scheme that will fail if the company ever stops expanding.

Yes, it does sound like the movie Speed if the car in question was a multi-billion dollar tech company.

Rather than down the predictable rabbit hole of the rise and fall of a fictional tech giant, we see Core Communications at its peak, before slowing falling into oblivion.

Robbie and his cousin Trevor are the only ones aware of the lie, and together, they are doing what they can to not only stay above water, but to protect the thousands of employees at the company who are unaware.

It’s a very dark story that feels like a slow burn before an avalanche. We know the company is going to fail, and we have no idea how Robbie has managed to maintain this success for so long. In some ways, I found myself rooting for Robbie and loathing him at the same time.

However by the end of the story, I found myself liking him all over again. Robbie is this emotionally and physically withdrawn billionaire who eats and sleeps in his office. Kind of like the reverse Tony Stark who simply wallows in self-pity on a bed of money. He lives and breathes Core Communications, and by association so do the rest of his co-workers.

Through bridging chapter sections, we are taken into the minds of secondary characters who regularly interact with Robbie, and whom all contribute to keeping the ship afloat. However, these characters all struggle to find a steady work-life balance because they are all so plugged in to Core Communications that they end up sleeping in their offices, rarely going out for a breath of fresh air.

By the end of the story, we begin to understand that the more this company unravels, the closer to freedom these characters are getting. This is especially true for Robbie, as we begin to see a whole new layer to his character that is refreshing, and a much needed breath of fresh air in an otherwise challenging read.

Shimmer is not for everybody. There are certain quips in the dialogue that irked throughout the story, but I think this is a remarkable elseworld tale of a 21st century technology company from its high highs to the lowest low, and everything in between.

FINAL SCORE: 3 out of 5

 

 

 

 

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