Tangle’s Game, Stewart Hotston

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We are your slaves, and we do not wish to be

Yesterday, Amanda Back’s life was flawless: the perfect social credit score, the perfect job, the perfect home. Today, Amanda is a target, an enemy of the system holding information dangerous enough to disrupt the world’s all-consuming tech—a fugitive on the run. But in a world where an un-hackable blockchain links everyone and everything, there is nowhere to run.

* *
2 / 5

I was expecting something akin to Suicide Club when I picked up Tangle’s Game, a book about a woman with a life that seems perfect right up until it isn’t. Instead I got something a bit confused, a bit slow and dragging, with a main character who didn’t interest me much.

Why should there only be one way to live? One way to be civilised?

Amanda Beck has a great job, credit score, and social life. Then her past, in the form of ex-boyfriend Tangle, comes back to haunt her. Now she’s on the hunt for something involving blockchains, and there’s various different political factions on her tail. The start was solid: Amanda detained in a jail cell with no idea why she’s there. It was a bit mysterious, a bit intriguing, and a bit unsettling.

But Tangle’s Game didn’t manage to keep me enthralled. Part of the problem was that I felt that the book could’ve done with another round of edits. There were a few typos and errors, and the plot didn’t flow smoothly. Amanda was rather unsympathetic as a main character, often snappish and overly defensive. The mysterious Tangle didn’t have much going for him either, painted as an out and out villain rather than someone with any redeemable qualities.

I exist in the liminal, stuck between two worlds who can’t see how I exist as I do, both demanding I become what they expect when they see me

The main issue for me, and this may be entirely my fault as a reader, was that I didn’t entirely get it. Yeah, I know a little about blockchains, which probably helped, because the plot revolved around something quite technical. But the setting itself felt more like a sketch than a filled-in and complete picture, relatable in its similarity to our world and confusing because the differences between it and our reality weren’t properly explained.

Tangle’s Game wasn’t the book for me, feeling more like a political thriller with some punch ups than a sci-fi. A bright note in the book came in the form of Tatsu, a character to enjoy if you pick this book up.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of Tangle’s Game. 

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