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The Insecure Mind of Sergei Kraev

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using multiple points of view has become pretty common but i've yet to read a book that does it so well.  each character is very specific yet recognizable.  

beyond the writing quality, which rides the line perfectly between writerly and page-turning, silberstein has crafted a plot that is both creative yet feels dread inducingly inevitable.

i look forward to reading whatever this author comes up with next.
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The Insecure Mind of Sergei Kraev is creatively structured -- started with the shock of a massive event that's referred to by its date, echoing 9/11, but far more reaching in its catastrophe -- a hack on near-universal brain implants that kills a massive amount of the worldwide population.

From there, we go back several years and like a perfect bell curve, spend half the book establishing all the pieces and how they are in motion, and the next half riding the wave as the dominoes crash.

Silberstein does a great job giving just enough info about this near-future society, though it would be very interesting to learn more about the civil war that tore apart the US, and especially how that lead to a unified Korea(!!), Singapore, and Israel becoming the major players in economic and especially technology.

There are vivid descriptions of how brain implants enable people to connect to each other, meet virtually, augment their intelligence, and tons of other great features -- all but smell. Then some researches think they have cracked the way to route smells to the brain.

In the meantime, a dance group gets de-prioritized in search/Internet for playing with the truth in their attempts to grow (where is that organization in our world?!) and as a result pivots in the extreme to an offline cult that draws people to its camp, where they redirect all of their wealth to the leader/mother.

The plotting of both the book and characters, and the richly drawn personalities and tech are very entertaining and thought-provoking -- especially around the responsibility people have over the consequences of their creations and for looking out for those close to them, and the tendency to be drawn to a sense of belonging and attach to a group and the potential risk to the self.
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Really solid and engaging near-future sci-fi thriller. My one critique, which I will state vaguely to avoid spoilers, is that it felt like the book took a bit too long to get to where it was going, and I wish we readers could have seen a bit more of the “after” period and what everyone was up to during that time. Nonetheless, definitely a worthwhile read.
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"He is moved. Normally he has an aversion to grand visions. But this is different. It's not some corporate goal, false national ideology, or unproven piece of religious fanaticism. It's a simple and elegant idea, that people the world over would be better off if they danced together."

This was an absolute page-turner. Silberstein does an incredible job of explaining complex algorithmic science in a way that doesn't make you feel stupid. It felt like the Fahrenheit 451 or Brave New World for the 21st century. The concept is not necessarily new – the near-distance future, brain implants, an interconnected society – but the approach was fresh, looking in-depth into the security of implants and what apparent flaws there could be. The worldbuilding isn't extensive, and it didn't have to be. The main issues of the book are closely tied to digital security and scientific ethics, and I don't have complaints on that end of the delivery.

However, at times it felt like there were too many POVs. Depending on how you count, there are four or five main characters (admittedly, I would forget about Linette for some stretches until her POV popped up again). While their plots are all interconnected and make sense in the end, there were moments when it felt like there was a bit too much going on. Not a single character is one-dimensional, and not a single one of them is flawless. Silberstein does a great job of establishing their motivations and morals (which are often very questionable).

Given the time I was reading this and the clear influences of Covid and modern-day politics on the book, I couldn't help but wonder how different the story would've been if it were being written right now, particularly the recruiting scenes. It's almost maddening to think that had I read it a few months earlier, my thoughts would've been very different.

This is a wonderful work of contemporary science fiction, although the epilogue did leave me feeling a little hollow.

Thanks to NetGalley for the access.
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Utterly fantastic. I was drawn to this novel by the blurb but wow it was so much more than I expected. Contemporary / near-future sci-fi isn't a genre I typically read (if ever) and I was immediately interested by the conclusions drawn from where we are now politically, socially, and technologically. The author (I seriously can't believe this is a debut!) did an incredible job weaving between past and present and between multiple POVs with the story always being told through the best eyes for that scene. 

What grounds a great SFF novel for me, no matter how big or strange the world's circumstances, are the characters and Insecure Mind is a great example of that. The characters you meet are brilliant and clever but they are flawed humans with desires that override their good sense. Sergei is such a wonderful person, and so smart, but his desire to love and be loved clouds him until it's too late. Karmina, Daniel, and Nadya all have similar foibles, though I will say that Sunny is...Sunny. I don't want to spoil her by saying more. 

The plot is so detailed and engrossing. It's so impressive how the author was able to weave it all together against the time bomb you know will go off thanks to the prologue without losing any of the momentum. Nothing felt rushed but it also feels impossible to put down. I absolutely loved it and I can't wait to see more from this author in the future. Highly recommend! 


Note: I received a free electronic edition of this book via NetGalley in exchange for the honest review above. I would like to thank them, the publisher, and the author for the opportunity to do so.
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This was a scary prospect of the future particularly with the current state of the world. The world can be influenced by those can influence popular perception and can change the narrative on "facts".
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In 2100, it is normal to be connected with people and media all the time due to neural implants.  The Board of Reality Overseers block false information.  Graduate student Sergei with two others are working on a project that will provide the sense of smell via the neural implants.  Sergei leaves the project when a girl he cares for marries the other man.  He goes to work for the private sector.  He meets Sunny Kim who is a rich, spoiled, self absorbed and “evil” dancer.  She is part of a popular dance troupe as her family paid for her to be a part of it.  When she is forced to leave the dance troupe, she starts her own cult.  Sergei is tricked into joining.  What will Sergei do now?

I liked the cast of characters as it diverse and international.  The plot is set in Israel, Korea and Singapore.  The characters all give their point of view.  The author has written a fascinating novel.
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Quantum computers are used to put implants into people in a post ffact society.  The implants prevent the spread of misinformation, but also force people into a class based society.  Sergei is a scientist who is trying to solve some problems that will lead to even better implants.  This work is done in Singapore, Israel and Korea since the other major powers have been decimated by civil unrest when the rampant unchecked social media took over.  A general's daughter in South Korea tries to control the tech as well.  Overall an exciting read since it shows possiblities for solving some of the problems we face today, but at what cost to personal liberty.
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In its early pages, THE INSECURE MIND OF SERGEI KRAEV is difficult to fathom. I say this not as a criticism but as an observation. This did not, however, keep me from reading to the end. 

The Prologue tells us that what is to follow is the family saga of what occurred one hundred years before April 14, 2220. After that, each chapter begins with an invocation of 4-17 starting twenty years before some catastrophic event. This inevitably made me thing of 9/11 and 1/6 and the horrors those dates signify.

2220 doesn't seem very near future, however, the events leading up to the calamitous event are not-so-concealed mirrors of those things happening in the world today. Once I was able to see the parallels between characters and real persons, the point of the story became crystal clear.

THE INSECURE MIND OF SERGEI KRAEV must be read without any preconceived notions. Its premise seems not only possible but probable. Sergei Kraev is the future everyman. His insecurities are recognizable; his actions are understandable. The politics of 2210 are the politics of 2019. Nothing changes until everything changes.
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I read over 1/3 of the book but have decided to put it down as DNF. 

The concept was extremely interesting, but the writing does not hold my interest, perhaps in part because the story doesn't flow linearly.

I hope to come back to this at some future point, but for now, alas, i must move on. 

(No real rating until I finish)
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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 "It is only after I figured out that working for the perception of results was far more important than actually producing results that my career began to take off."

I ended up during this, but I likely will pick it up again in the future. The prose is engaging and the Black Mirror comparisons are spot on, I just couldn't connect with it for some reason.
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𝘙𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨!

Wow, this story was a wild ride from start to finish. It was twisty, original and it kept me at the edge of my seat. If you like science fiction and really unique stories this book is for you. A fantastic debut.

Thank you Suzy Approved Book Tours for this gifted copy.

The Insecure Mind of Sergei Kraev by Eric Silberstein released August 5, 2021.

𝘙𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦: 𝘚𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘍𝘪𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘍𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘺, 𝘍𝘪𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯.

https://www.instagram.com/booksandcoffeemx/
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The first aspect that stood out for the story is how futuristic the author designed it. I felt I was getting a glimpse of a realistic future that intimidated me how technology became an integral part of our lives. I was so impressed that this was the author’s debut because he beautifully executed the story!

Moreover, I enjoyed how the author depicted the characters.
Initially, it was interesting to see the dynamics between Sergei, Karima, and Daniel on the one hand and Sunny’s lavish lifestyle on the other hand. In the beginning, Sunny’s storyline drew me into the book and her life at 100M with Yo Kyeong. However, all the characters and storylines absorbed me into the author’s world, and I found it fascinating, even Lynette.

Another nice part of the book is how the author writes the characters’ emotions well, who we can root for, even if it seems like they are from another world and time. Some of my favorite moments are when Karima faces betrayal at Uncle Gadi’s farm, Sunny’s conflict with Sang-Chul and Fernando, or Sergei’s feelings for Nadya. The plot gets so twisted towards the climax that you wonder what will happen to everyone. Moreover, I love the creative way the author gets personal with the tale. For instance, the narrator, Leon, breaks the story in places to insert blog posts from various decades that give the story a vintage look.

Perhaps the book’s only criticism is that it took me a good few chapters to get into the groove. The author toggles between different timelines and locations between branches, from Korea to Singapore to Israel that took me time to adjust.

Overall, I thought “The Insecure Mind of Sergei Kraev” was a brilliant debut, and I can easily see a movie adaptation.
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Very interesting book! I kept thinking we would find more about the time in between the big event and the time period of the beginning, but I still found the lead-up to the big event to be very engaging. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives of the different characters.
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Let me begin by stating this type of book isn’t what I usually gravitate toward. I read the synopsis and decided to give it to try. It was not for me. It felt excessively long and filled with details that I couldn’t connect with. I didn’t hate it but I really did not enjoy it either. I don’t want to drone on and on about it, so I’ll leave it at that.

Based on other reviews, it looks like plenty of people enjoyed it, so take my review with a grain of salt and read it and decide for yourself.

Thank you to NetGalley + Liu Book Group for the copy of this book!
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This book was outside my normal reading wheel-house with its future setting and descriptive use of technology, but that part didn’t deter me at all from enjoying this read.

This book gives off a science fiction thriller vibe while at the same time speaks to humanity; its dependence on technology and our ability no matter how tech savvy the world becomes to be manipulated by other people.

The story if written by Leon, the son of two of the main characters, 100 years after the incident known as 4-17. (Everyone is living to be well over a hundred years old in this timeframe of 2100-2220.) 

Leon tells the story of his parents, their friend, Sergei, who were all working at one time on their PhDs together, and the roles these three play in 4-17.

My favorite part of this book is the intertwining of a narcissist named Sunny who goes from dancer to cult leader and in her own way becomes a catalyst for 4-17. 

The book does a nice job explaining implants which is pivotal to the storyline. I also really loved the creative details such as people only wearing scrubs and projecting their clothes.

It’s also interesting to note how the author tells of future governments and the fate of the United States.

This book will make you want to put your phone away and realize we really could be only one off for a lot of things this book describes. 

But I do want you to keep in mind that this book also speaks to human emotions. Love, arrogance, dedication are all part of the story and also cause the fateful day of 4-17.

Notice I never said what happens on 4-17. This one is worth the read to find out on your own!
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Okay, let's get one thing straight right off the  bat.  There is no K-pop dance cult.  It's dance cult based on Korea. There is not even the remotest element of K-pop in this novel and, while most may not care, as someone who had my interest piqued for this very reason, it was a bait and switch.  The lack of this potentially kooky/fun (promised) story element aside, this book offers some fascinating world-building as it imagines a future where our lowly internet evolves into a cyberspace that links users via brain implants which offer convenience and comforts...but at what cost?  The set-up is great and fascinating aspects of the future tech off-sets the occasional info-dumps in much the same way most of the grounded, sympathetic characters that people this world outweigh the rather two-dimensional villain - Sunny, the dance-happy cult leader -  at the heart of the novel.  There are also instances where the author seems to be making a political statement about the dangers of misinformation and the need for state censorship which is ironic given that the antagonists of the story hail from the former North Korea.  Overall, a solid read whose futuristic ideas are stronger than its narrative whole.
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I very rarely read science fiction. I don’t avoid it; it just isn’t something I usually enjoy. This book, however, caught my attention on NetGalley so I requested it. I’m glad I did!

- What do you get when you mix highly intelligent scientists, a selfish/narcissistic dancer (yes, I said a dancer), an infatuated and naïve programmer, and a global population with government-required brain implants for 24/7 connectivity to the information superhighway? Chaos. You get utter chaos.

- Misinformation was an interesting theme in this story. Under the guise of eliminating misinformation, in this future world (between 80 to 100 years from now) “truth” and “facts” are determined by a single global agency and they decide what information the public is allowed to receive (via implants of course). The power of a few to dictate what is truth (or really just to control the narrative) is frightening and independent thinking no longer exists.

- There is a whole chapter dedicated to explaining mathematical proofs! Yes, please! 🤓 It isn’t too technical actually, and it is an important story element to understand why proofs are important.

- I thought the characters in this book were strong. I had sympathy for some, hatred for others, and total frustration with all of them! But I’m pretty sure that is how you are supposed to feel about them!

- The story is remarkable and I raced through it! It was quite unique and I was enthralled from the start!

- Honestly, you don’t have to love science fiction to love this book! I highly recommend it!
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An interesting story that goes through some potential endgame scenarios if current trends persists into the near future. I disagreed with some of the predictions, in particular the dissolution of the US. We also don't learn much about what happened in all of Africa, Central and Southen America, Southeast Asia, and all of the Middle East save Israel. I understand why the author, being American, would see the US, Israel, and Singapore as some kind of trifecta, but restricting all the experts in the field focused on in this book (who also happen to be the only experts, the only people capable of comprehending BQCI to being Russian and Israeli-American is, uh, bizarre. 

I thought the inclusion of memetic things from the 2010s and 2020s to be way too cheesy. I don't like things that date a work like that. Like, really, you want to memorialize the blue/black-white/gold dress? Really?

I also found the behaviors of Sergei, Karima, and Daniel, which led to the conclusion, to be unrealistic. These are all ostensibly very intelligent people in a complex field. All of them decide to forego all ethical considerations, which Sergei and Karima particularly emphasize, for no good reason. I mean, the author gives reasons, but I don't think they are good ones. Sergei's actions, his negligence, are way too absurd to buy. 

<spoiler>I also find it hard to believe that in their 10+ years of work on their project, neither Karima nor Daniel considered that the proof wasn't working out because there was an issue with the algorithm. Even if they had faith it worked based on their widescale brute force testing. As I reader, that was my immediate thought, that there was an error in their algorithm</spoiler>

But, even though from the beginning the plot was laid out and consequently predictable, I did enjoy reading this. I did so in one sitting. I wish there had been more exploration into "freedom" being not only "freedom to" but "freedom from".
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The End of the World. Brought to you by K-pop. That is pretty much all I can say about that without spoiling some key points of this plot. 

The year is 2120 and the majority of the world’s populace is living in a fully connected, technological wonderland… until things go very wrong.

The non-linear timeline of this story is very easy to follow and the “info dumps” are written perfectly to keep you in the story while also relaying important information when it is needed. Science fiction stories, especially hard science fiction, tends to be overwhelming, but I did not find that to be the case here. The fact that this story is set 100 years in the future of our reality makes everything a little more believable.

The use of 2020 as an historical period for this story was excellent. The Covid pandemic and a lot of related buzzwords made it into this story, like the warning from the PM’s office that encouraged citizens to disconnect their implants ‘out of an abundance of caution’. And as you might have guessed, so many people disregarded that message. Another favorite is the technique we used to combat the spread of infection through something called ‘social distancing’. From 100 years in the future where advancements in technology allow implants to eradicate any infection that is detected in the body the fact that we could only try to stop Covid this way sounds like science fiction.

Watching 2020 through the eyes of the youngest generation in 2120 is interesting. Discussions of airpods as archaic machines during a history lesson gave me a giggle or two. The white/gold dress viral internet debacle makes an appearance... These are just a couple examples of recent trending topics that are in this story.

Recommended for: fans of fast-paced, sometimes jargon heavy, science fiction

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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