First and most simple is that it is a novel that makes the reader think. It requires the reader to pay attention and to work at following the story. Any reader that does this will be rewarded, I promise.
Second is that the story is about three people; Leila Majnoun – a Persian-American humanitarian aid worker with a NGO in Burma, Leo Crane – the slightly off-kilter son of a board game fortune who likes pot and alcohol more than he should, and Mark Devreaux – the accidentally famous author of a self-help book who really could read a few more of those books himself.
There are tiny hiccups with the characters.
The first part of the novel is dedicated to Leila and she is the ideal character on which to base a story. She’s strong and sassy and determined. She’s doing charitable work when her parents wanted her to go to medical or law school, marry a rich man, and give them grandchildren.
Leo is the lovable goof of the story. At the start, he works in a day care center where he invents a game called Rolling Death. Is there anything more adorable than a guy working with kids too young for kindergarten and playing Rolling Death with them? No. Leo’s paranoia, only partially enhanced by copious amounts of pot, gets him in trouble and then in rehab. By a stroke of luck, some of his paranoia proves absolutely true. The way he deals with that revelation proves that the lovable goof can also be the dependable rock in life.
Mark got high and/or drunk and wrote a blog somebody liked. So they gave him a book deal (which every would-be writer is jealous of) to write a self-help book. This proves that fools get all the luck and he gets a fancy patron in one of the richest men in the world.
The hiccup is that I’d read a whole book about Leila, Leo was good enough, and I could’ve done without Mark entirely. But I think that’s how it was meant to be.
The main plot of the story is intriguing and alarming.
It’s sort of like the popular dystopian novels – it’s fiction but it’s so close to a possible reality that it’s a little unnerving. For example, after reading Shafer’s book, I can assure you that I am now wholeheartedly against Google Glasses. And I’m looking at things I post online (like this review) with an even healthier sense of skepticism and the feeling that someone – not necessarily the government but a cabal of filthy rich people on fancy yachts – is spying on me for nefarious purposes that they rationalize as entirely legitimate and helpful to little old me.
I love dystopian novels, though, and I love WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT too.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT is available for purchase in print, ebook, and audio form now.
(I received a copy of WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT through NetGalley in return for an honest and original review. All thoughts are my own. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads, and my blog.)