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Gone Viral
J. A. Knight, author
What if you could rule the world ... from your phone? Computer science graduate Lenny Driver dreams of working at Blahst, a top social media company. But when the company steals his code during a job interview, he lashes back by creating an algorithm to spread fake rumors about the company. The algorithm works better than he ever intended, and Lenny is stunned to discover that he has created a weapon of mass manipulation. As he explores his newfound power, the unintended consequences spiral out of control, and Lenny finds himself hunted not only by Blahst but by a rogue intelligence agent who will stop at nothing to obtain the algorithm's secret.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.50 out of 10


Plot: The author understands technology and its impact on society. Knight does not shy away from its involvement in business and government as the plot is thick with inventive machinations. The action builds steadily, ultimately leading to a gratifying resolution.

Prose: At times the author resorts to resolving a problem with a trite observance, comment, or outcome. It seems that some of the resolutions are too tidy. Otherwise, the prose is clear and even. The author particularly excels at presenting technology in a manner that is accessible to those who may not be well-versed in the subject.

Originality: The author creates a world of weaponized tech that is both intriguing and plausible. 

Character Development: Well-defined and convincing characters throughout allow both the protagonists and villains humanity and depth. The lead is particularly sympathetic as he rapidly becomes embroiled in circumstances far beyond his control.


Date Submitted: August 30, 2019

Fans of intelligent thrillers about potential technological threats will relish Knight’s promising debut. After Lenny Driver crashes and burns in his effort to land a job with Blahst, the Massachusetts-based “coolest web company in the world,” his roommate finds him a position with Healthway Research International, a small nonprofit group that focuses on AIDS prevention in third world countries. After Lenny uses up much of the organization’s funding in an unauthorized experiment targeting Burundi, he deploys a viral algorithm that creates personalized appeals for money across a range of social media sites to repair the damage he caused. His scheme quickly raises enough money for Healthway to cover what he spent—and much more, which is sent directly to Burundi. But that influx of cash leads the Burundi government to back out of a deal with a crooked U.S. senator, who asks a shadowy intelligence agent to find out what triggered the windfall. Knight maintains suspense throughout while making her projections about viral social media both plausible and comprehensible to the lay reader. (BookLife)