We at ThinkerViews love reading sensible thrillers. It is not easy to find them, though. Of course, there are a lot of books published every year, but not all of them are worth your money and more importantly, time. Recently I got a chance to read a fantastic thriller named I’m So Hacked by debutante author Gautam Mayekar.
|Book Title||:||I’m So Hacked
|Publisher||:||Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd (6 May 2019)|
|# of Pages||:||
5324 KB; 217 (Kindle EBook)
|# of Chapters||:||23|
Set up in the “hacking” arena, the book interested us when came to know about it for the first time. Eventually, we got a chance to buy it during a book promotion (Kindle EBook version) at very attractive rates. It then stayed in our “to be read and reviewed queue” for a while. But, finally, I have decided to read it “out of turn”. And, our team approved the request. Why, out of turn? Well, because, I love reading thrillers associated with the IT industry. Hacking is one of the most misunderstood terms, and it is not easy to write a convincing thriller that remains true to the facts. I found the same written convincingly in Dan Brown‘s book “Digital Fortress” including some other books. So, I was curious to explore, how it is represented in this book.
Being a key to a portal explored within, the cover page plays a very important role in making the first impression of the book. Of course, a book should not be judged by its cover page only, but no one can ignore the influence of a cover page in a large number of purchase and/or reading decisions for sure.
As you can see the “Boomranng studio” has done a decent and remarkable job in making the cover page of this book. On the contrary to the colors used to refer to the hacking world (which more often than not hacking world, but either the dark web or crackers’ world) – the black and green, the cover page uses the shades of red and other cheerful colors. And, it works positively. Also the title “I AM So Hacked” is played with, and is written in hacking terminology, “!M S0 H@CK3D“. The people associated with the IT field who need to spend a lot of hours indoor following the schedule mostly opposite to the normal working hours. And thus, if they have no specific fitness routine then, faces a lot of health issue like puffy eyes. Also, very less exposure to the Sun makes their skin look a little dull. And, more often they are introvert. But, who says introvert people don’t like to have fun? Mentally they are more engrossed in such activities and often their humor is witty. These attributes are shown in the illustration of the protagonist on the cover page.
I like the cover page.
Let us take a bird’s eye view of the story.
The protagonist works in an Information Technology company and is responsible for the security-related works. Though he don’t find his job much challenging or amusing (he find the stuff quite easy and going at a slow speed), he does it for a reason. Sometimes he is frustrated with the way the administration behaves. Giving priorities and perks to female employees even if they lack talent, based on the favors they offer, is something he doesn’t like. In the same way, he doesn’t like it when the project manager or team leader gives some unrealistic timelines for various tasks, he hates it. Of course, any sane employee of any company working in any sector shares the same feeling, right? At the office, he is not more social. He doesn’t be part of gossips and he doesn’t like the way his colleagues (including superiors) see the female employee as an object. So, mostly he keeps himself reserved.
He was approached by a patriot army officer to participate in an unofficial mission for the greater good of the nation.
He too was frustrated with the corruption level and the way morals and ethics are stooped to a dangerous level. People started considering freedom for granted and corruption as a way of living. And, he wanted to do something concrete which proves to be a shock and people realize what they are doing wrong.
What is the mission and how will he (if) play his role? Will the mission be successful? Where are the borders between the real and the virtual world for him (or do they exist)? All these questions are better answered by reading this thriller. On the course, you meet (or get a reference of) many characters like M@dR1, Kanhalal Kumar, Preet Kaur, Roger, Kevin Mitnick, Yashodhan Pendse, Seema, and more.
Views And Reviews:
Published by Jufic Books, an imprint of Leadstart Publishing, this book has many positive attributes.
The first and foremost thing that will bring your attention is the use of the hacker language. Right from the title (as I have talked earlier), it is reflected in chapter names also. For example, the first chapter title “Interview” is written as “InT3rVi3w”. One of the characters is referred throughout as “M@dR1”.
The author is well with current happenings and he doesn’t shy away in including notable relevant incidents in the book. For example, naming a character (just referred to in a short conversation only) as Kanhalal Kumar. It might already have ring a bell in your mind, if not, here is the conversation:
When a Kanhalal Kumar, the guy who took 8 years to pass a 3 year course in some college, yells out slogans of breaking our country into pieces, he is hailed as a hero. …
In continuity, the thread moves ahead as:
… How else would you explain that when our Government hanged a convicted terrorist, newspapers ran headlines with the title, “And they hanged him.”
Yes, my brother. They are not one of us. Their nationalism died the day they referred to us as “they”.
While you are able to establish links with the incidents mentioned, you will also be amused in the way they are written. And, of course, you will find it realistic too. And, in those aspects, when the author mentions:
Sometimes to tackle crooks, you need to be a crook.
You tend to agree with it.
On the same track, you will find many hard-hitting and eye-opener conversations in the book. The way the author talks about how the countrymen are ignorant about the important matters and are engrossed into some silly stuff is really good. He rightly says that if you ask people about the color of undergarments so and so celebrity(!) wore on a day they will be able to answer but will have no words about the issues and matter. Then he goes ahead and shares that the conversations people have in a country define the state of a country. And, we have to agree. It is true, especially for democratic countries.
Moving ahead on the same track, the author then talks about the scenario in the corporate world. He elaborates the tendency of employees to jump from one job to another, based on the pay scale and perks. The quality of work, or the work actually to be done, doesn’t matter much to them. It eventually results in poor-quality work-delivery. He also touches the opposite end as well. For most of the companies, the newly appointed management or top-level-administration thinks of the employees serving since long as “incompetent ones”. He goes ahead and mentions the following:
… Fakers, they’re all fakers, nothing is real in the corporate world and all we are meant to do is kiss our clients’ asses – clients from the US and UK. What has this country been reduced to? Where is this country heading?
In addition to technical talks and exploration of the corporate environment and the situation in the country from various perspectives, you will find some lines full of wisdom as well.
Our past shapes us, strengthens us and makes us who we are.
We burn and burn all our lives, and even though we think of ourselves as fabulous Roman candles, all we are is a filthy cigarette that consumes itself with time…
Facing reality is the hardest thing a man can ever do.
The author talks about the role of trust (and misuse of the same) in almost all wrongdoings.
Trust is the most exploitable and vulnerable trait a person can have.
Never trust anyone; sometimes, not even your own self.
That’s how you hack people; you exploit their vulnerabilities, their insecurities.
And if you think the author is sadist or over-practical, he wrote the following lines as well:
When you fall for a person, you fall for the idea of that person. You are attracted to their nature, whether it is strong or it is soft.
Life is really good when you are in love.
You don’t hack a person you love.
Some of the lines of the books are interestingly written and are able to tell you that you are reading a good psychological thriller.
The human mind is a weirdly-constructed conundrum. It makes you believe in things that are non-existent; it makes you forget things that actually exist. Sometimes even your own existence.
The author indirectly asks the reader to get out of the virtual world and live in the real world:
The problem with hackers, is that they can control the virtual reality. Till now, there has been no divinely smart soul who has built an unbreakable software; a piece of code will always have logical problems, errors, vulnerabilities.
But when it comes to the physical world, the one created by the people, amalgamated of the people and affiliated with the people, it’s unbreakable….
On the same track, he says:
Socializing is an art; once you have mastered it, you can never lose it, they say.
The following lines are a dilemma of any technical person (in different aspects and perspective) when a non-technical person ask the technical details about the things he/she is associated with:
Explaining to him or anyone else who is not versed with the details of internet security, about the technicalities of hacking was like explaining to little children the constitutional laws of India. Just beyond their mental capabilities.
The book has some nice and interesting phrases used such as: “hacking a tree by its root”. The author talks about honeypot and other technical stuff, expected in the book. You will find a reference to “Orkut” social media site (I wonder why Myspace didn’t have a reference; but possibly because, the story is set up in India, and Myspace was rather popular in US and Orkut in India).
Contemporariness is one of the positive points of the book. The book has also references to words like “presstitutes” (which will again make you link it easily with some real incidents. And, yes, there is a TV channel named “DTV” appears in the book :). You can also find references for DRDO, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Pearl Harbor, Taare Zameen Par (movie) and many other… that tell you that the author is an avid reader himself.
The book has some fantastic descriptions of various scenes that show his command over the language.
To add to the thrill there are references to Lord Kalki and Devdatta as well!
The book could have been much better if the things in the second half could have been written better. A normal reader may not be able to enjoy all the references and thrills. The book has its share of cuss words, so it is not for all the readers.
To make the review spoiler-free I’ve intentionally skipped mentioning many aspects that can refer to key-events or ruin or reading experience. The quotes from the book will give you a fair amount of idea about the quality of writing you can expect from it.
The book is a good psychological thriller blend with a love story, corporate scenarios, and patriotism. It has its own letdowns, but, an attentive thriller lover will find it enjoyable.
Around 7.5 out of 10.
Quick Purchase Links:
- Buy Book From Amazon India – Paperback
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- Buy Book From Amazon US – Paperback
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- Buy Book From Amazon US – Audiobook
Over To You:
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