by David Hewson
Narrated by Gemma Whelan
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 29 Oct 2020 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2020
AN AUDIOBOOK EXCLUSIVE, PERFORMED BY GAME OF THRONES STAR GEMMA WHELAN.
'Life is real…but this is Realer…'
Realer promises a new virtual reality, a safe and sanitised window into a virtual existence without the risks of the real, crumbling, post-pandemic society beyond the door. Sixteen year old Charlotte 'Charlie' Mackintosh is a loner whose father works for the company. He gives her Realer for her birthday – only to be murdered as she watches through her high-tech hood at home. Alone in a tense, post-lockdown world, Charlie has to turn to Realer to find his killers. She’s soon trapped in a murderous conspiracy behind a system that’s steadily beginning to take over people’s lives. Charlie comes to understand that she can only hide from outside dangers for so long. In the end, the only way to defeat them is face-to-face, in the real world. A place she fears more than any.
Audie award-winning author David Hewson’s edgy dystopian, near-future thriller gives us a chilling glimpse into what our post-pandemic world could become.
A Note From the Publisher
|DURATION||8 Hours, 35 Minutes|
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 13 members
This is different from the many books I’ve read by David Hewson. For a start it’s set entirely in England (in Yorkshire) and is closer to science fiction than it is to the classic thriller, his usual genre. However, the story is as thrilling and suspenseful as any of his other books and it contains some very effective plot-twists. It is about as timely as a novel can be: the novel is set during a pandemic, in which people all over the world seek relief in the world of virtual reality – one that can seem ‘Realer’ than the real world. The narrator-protagonist is a sixteen-year-old girl, Charlotte/Charlie, from a broken family, in a town where nearly everyone works for the great warehouse/factory, which seems to control most people’s lives. In particular, the company produces ‘Realer’ hoods, devices that people use for every possible purpose, including virtual travel. Charlie, who has been traumatised by an attempted assault and never leaves her house, agrees to join her father on a virtual walk through the woods, using the hood that he has given her. During this first ‘excursion’ she witnesses his murder. Distrusting the adult world, Charlie finds herself forced to investigate this murder by herself. It becomes clear that it was no random killing but is connected with the fight for control of the Realer organization – which could effectively mean control of the world. Hewson brilliantly blends the thriller with the futuristic novel – though it is a future that seems dangerously close to us. Charlie, through whose eyes (sometimes mediated via Realer) and voice (a brilliant performance by Gemma Whelan) we experience everything, is a wholly convincing character – and also a highly engaging one. Although she seems worryingly fragile at first, we see her grow both in understanding and in courage. The novel, which comes to a satisfying and touching resolution, works both as a thriller and as a caustic satire on our dependency on social media and corporate-controlled devices. Thanks to NetGalley and W.F. Howe for the audio review copy of REALER.
With non-stop intrigue, believable technological innovations, a pandemic causing long term lockdowns and the detrimental mental health issues it caused, this story could easily be our near future. There are a variety of social issues tackled in REALER, along with a mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very end. David Hewson has created characters that readers will recognize as either similar to themselves or to others they know. If you want to take a look at one of our society's potential futures, this Audiobook is a must listen. I will be looking for more audiobooks narrated by GEMMA WHELAN. She is a professional actress and was a member of the award-winning cast of Game of Thrones. Her acting experience shines through in her narration as she knows exactly what intonation to use for each chapter. Her narration deserves a 5 Star review of its own. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ It is the combination of great writing, exceptional narration and professional production that combine to make REALER an audiobook not to miss. A 5 Star rating is exactly what this Audiobook deserves. 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ *** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this audiobook.
REALER is one of the first books I've come across that visualizes a post-COVID (or at least post-lockdown) world, and Hewson's world is a dystopian, dangerous place. The good news is that while the Northern England setting is bleak, REALER is a thrilling story that I couldn't bear to turn off until I listened to it all. Charlotte "Charlie" Mackintosh is a much-bullied ginger living a drab teenage existence among her lower-class peers. Mom is drunky, her beloved Dad has abandoned the family for no discernible reason, and a creepy guy named Rick has moved into the cottage and her mother's bed. Rick is her dad's supervisor at a warehouse company that sounds a lot like the one that immediately comes up if you type the letter "A" into any search engine. It employs a lot of low-skilled people, but not for long, because the robots are coming. But before the robots, comes Realer. Realer is a kind of virtual/augmented reality mash up that lets you travel anywhere in the world (or atmosphere) without leaving your home--something that a lot of people, like Charlie, have gotten used to because of "the pandemic." Realers are quickly becoming must-haves all over the world. You simply pop on "specs" or a "hood" (the hood image is uber-creepy because it reminds me way too much of hoods put on people about to be executed), and away you go. Charlie's dad gives her a Realer of her own. She's not excited about it, because she'd much rather spend her time drawing birds on paper, or reading books. But she uses it with him to humor him, and to spend time with him. That's when the real trouble starts. On one of her first Realer outings, she sees her father murdered. Charlie has no real adult support in her life. At sixteen, she's not taken seriously by anyone. When the police barely seem interested in her father's murder, she slowly realizes she must take on the investigation herself. Though Charlie is no Nancy Drew with a flashy car and a wealthy parent to bankroll her. Charlie's world is bleak and friendless in the extreme. Fortunately she's smart, and braver than she thinks she is. She dives deep into the Realer world to uncover her father's connection to it, and discover what sort of toy Realer really is. It's fascinating to watch her navigate, trying to figure out whom she can trust (no one, she concludes), and whom she can manipulate or fool into revealing their motives. This is an incredibly timely book, and though the protagonist is only sixteen, it is a cautionary tale that anyone over the age of, say, fifteen will enjoy. It was a bit of a shock to realize how plausible the world of Realer is. If you're like me, you'll run to turn off every microphone in your house, pocket, or purse the moment you finish. Many thanks to NetGalley and W.F. Howe for the audio review copy of REALER.