A Book Spy Review: ‘Killfile’ by Chris Farnsworth

51V2YoC01RL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_When the CIA first discovered John Smith, a psychic with an astonishing skill set, they set out to help him weaponize his unique abilities. That meant finding a way to tune out the useless, monotonous, everyday thoughts that people fill their heads with as they go about their daily routine. Once he found a way to block out those things, he was able to focus on the more important information and use it for good.

After honing his unusual talents, Smith left the CIA (and the government altogether) and now works in the private sector as a paid consultant, where people with deep pockets will pay a king’s ransom to secure his help.

Not only can Smith read people’s minds, but he can influence and manipulate their thoughts. What initially seems like it would be a pretty cool ability to have is soon shown to be hell on earth. The other side to Smith’s gift is that there’s no mute button for him to hit when he wants to shut out voices he hears. That, and the resulting constant headaches, force Smith to live in semi-isolation. 

But after running easier, straightforward jobs that pay well, Smith is finally offered something more valuable to him than money. 

Everett Sloan, a billionaire software developer, wants Smith to access the mind of his former protege who stole an important algorithm from him. That algorithm helped make Sloan the success that he is today.

If John can infiltrate the mind of tech genius Eli Preston, then scrub any trace of the computer code, Sloan has the means to grant him his one true wish–the ability to live in complete and total isolation on his own private island, free from everyone else’s thoughts and problems. 

Taking the job, Smith sets out to meet with Preston. What he doesn’t know, though, is that Preston used Sloan’s algorithm to build a computer-based version of what John can do. Using math and enormous amounts of data, most of which is taken from people’s electronic existence (I’ll never trust the Cloud again!), Preston’s software can literally predict someone’s next move before they even decide to make it.

The other problem that Smith soon realizes is that Preston is more than just a mad scientist with brilliant computer skills. He’s vengeful, hot-headed, and crushes anyone and everyone who crosses him. Now that John Smith is in his crosshairs, Preston will stop at nothing to destroy him. 

In the end, Christopher Farnsworth’s latest thriller comes down to a battle between machine vs. human, albeit a human with superhero-like powers. While that in itself isn’t a new concept, the author’s unique take on things is both compelling and fun. Plus, Farnsworth adds in a couple twists that most won’t see coming, keeping readers off balance until the very end. 

John Smith is a hero for the digital age and Chris Farnsworth’s best character to date. Landing somewhere between X-Men and Joseph Finder’s Paranoia (2004), Killfile is a mind-bending, brainy thriller that forces readers to think outside the box and question everything. 

My Thoughts

John Smith is a fantastic new character, and Farnsworth created the perfect antagonist for him to go up against. Once the reader has a clear understanding of who Smith is, it’s a lot of fun to see him struggling to act outside of his normal behavior in an effort to beat Preston’s computer program by being unpredictable. 

Also, plots like this usually tend to be hard to understand if you’re not up to date on the latest computer lingo and must-have apps. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here. Farnsworth lays everything out nicely, but without going overboard while explaining the tech side of things.

While entertaining, Killfile is also a thought-provoking thriller. Most have never stopped to think about just how much information about themselves is out there…You will now! 

Book Details

Author: Chris Farnsworth

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: August 9, 2016 (Order now!)




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