Overview (No Spoilers): Cumulus was a fast paced, futuristic novel that takes place in the California Bay region. Heavily focused on advances in technology, specifically surveillance, Peper creates a detailed, thought provoking look into the world that potentially awaits us in the near future. I would love to know Peper’s actual feelings and opinions with regard to our impending fate concerning the evolution of technology. Specifically, does he currently cover his phone’s camera with tape? Ever since reading this novel I’ve been increasingly tempted to cover my phone’s cameras, and have been pondering our high tech future, which ultimately has left me feeling rather helpless regarding this conceivable outcome. While this world development by Peper was delightfully innovative and detailed, the corresponding character development was shallow in comparison. The story line follows Huian the head of a tech giant in Silicon Valley, Lilly who is a film photographer who has very little interest in technology, and Chandler, an ex clandestine operative, who is a master manipulator. Each of the aforementioned personalities despite being incredibly predictable and stereotypical, become increasingly intertwined as to irrevocably capture the curiosity of the reader. Overall, Cumulus was a highly entertaining read that continues to occupy my thoughts weeks after finishing the novel in question with it serving as a glimpse, if not a warning about the dangerous every day life side effects for humanity as our technology advances seemingly unchecked.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- Chandler was a the perfect evil character for the this novel because as the story progressed it became more apparent that he was mentally unstable making his motives questionable and ultimately leading to a quite suspenseful climax. I did have to read his ending several times before I could accept that he had killed himself just as everything was coming to a head. Initially, I felt as though his ending as a copout, however the more I pondered his death, I realized how unique and innovative the construct was in comparison to the traditional good guy kills bad guy.
- The aftermath of Chandler’s death left our main characters with many tough decisions, especially Huian. I hated that she had to go away to jail, however I very well appreciated the concept, often ignored in books, that there must be consequences for your bad decisions even if the intensions were not evil.
- Lilly was an intriguing character who confounded Chandler due to her minimal online footprint. The concept was reminiscent of Hwa of Company Town), who being considered organic, had not had any augmentations and therefore could not be ‘hacked’ by outsiders.
- The ghosting protocol is far too dangerous to fully comprehend if placed in the wrong hands. While I realize that currently there is not the capability for such a program, the concept potential does not seem even remotely far off.