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Book Review: Identity Crisis by Ben Elton

Identity Crisis by Ben Elton.
I'm a fan of Ben Elton's work, particularly his ability to tell a story that taps into an aspect of the zeitgeist of the day. In Identity Crisis Ben weaves a story around social media outrage and its influence on shaping almost everything from the mainstream media and celebrity down to individual everyday people.

The book also explores the minefield of gender identity as modern inclusiveness clashes with traditional thinking.

In the story, Mick Matlock is an old school Scotland Yard detective, investigating a murder with no clues, when he inadvertently becomes the focus of social media outrage for victim blaming.

As his investigation continues the body count increases with each new victim seemingly a casualty of social media outrage. Mick begins to suspect much more is going on.

Initially I found this book a little difficult to stay hooked into. Whilst I use social media I'm not as hooked into it as people who live on their phones and computers seem to be.

While social media does influence much that happens in the real world, with trending hashtags and viral posts, I'm somewhat frustrated by the arrogance of social media's self importance. Especially given that the most vocal on social media are often the worst kind of people imaginable... and they're the ones shaping the conversation.

Identity Crisis is very much focussed on these people and their influence but it goes much further into how their outrage can be manipulated and leveraged to affected things with much higher stakes than just causing offence.

I honestly don't care much for people who get offended or outraged on the internet. Fortunately the books main character, Detective Matlock, doesn't either, which helped to keep me reading.

Once I got into the main part of the story, I definitely enjoyed how everything begins to unfold. Seeing behind the curtain of how social media manipulation could (and probably does) happen (maybe with a lower body count though).

My only gripe is that I felt the ending didn't really resolve itself in a satisfying payoff. It's not terrible but it's one of those endings where I (at least) thought 'Is that it?' The ending kind of cuts itself short in terms of the characters in the sense that, it took me quite a way into the story to really invest in them, and now it's done? Maybe I just wanted a little more time with these people.

Overall a great read. Especially, I would think, if you're neck deep in social media participation and haven't really thought about why certain topics, hashtags, and posts, suddenly start gaining traction, while anything you try to make viral struggles to even be seen by your own social media 'followers'.

Identity Crisis is available from Amazon.

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