Computers and phones across the globe suddenly erupt with dazzling neon light, hypnotizing billions of users worldwide. In the quiet aftermath of a global catastrophe four survivors navigate a world ruled by an enigmatic Alternate Intelligence.
Jessie Aguilar emerges from her subterranean hideaway, seeking revenge for the atrocities she witnessed. Inexplicably assisted by a computer system controlling all technology, her ambitions cloaked with mistrust and deception, Jessie plays an almost unwinnable game.
An autistic empath of extraordinary ability, ten-year-old Mason embarks on a thousand-mile journey to find his missing father. His unique talent is used to rescue slaves possessed by the strange neon light, but Mason finds friends and foes indistinguishable as he seeks to do battle with the powerful AI.
Dev Patel abandons his remote Utah sanctuary to accompany his friend, Martin, through the remnants of civilization, each searching for redemption, each committed to terminating the self-aware entity. One Martin had helped to create.
Converging in the wasteland of Las Vegas, the survivors confront a new world order intricately connected by the Neon God and race to save the last of humanity before the devastating effects of the neon lights become permanent, laying waste to a post-apocalyptic landscape.
Plot/Idea: The plot is immediately riveting, and Gayler chooses to introduce several unanswered questions at the start—such as who is the dangerous man hunting Jessie and what caused the apocalyptic terror surrounding her—that build chilling suspense.
Prose: Gayler's strength lies in developing tension and crafting believable reactions from the main characters in response to the horror surrounding them. The book is interrupted at times with choppy transitions and a need for more detailed explanations of the story's events.
Originality: Gayler's worldbuilding is spellbinding, and the eerie events, combined with memorable protagonists, give the book an advantage over similar titles.
Character/Execution: The Neon God boasts an exceptional cast that carries the plot in several places. Jessie is an impressive protagonist with strong interiority, and Mason's playful but essential character is both well-developed and endearing.
Date Submitted: June 26, 2023
With a large and diverse cast, Gayler creates bold and memorable characters readers will empathize with. Each character comes to life within the pressure-cooker situation which gives readers plenty of opportunities to connect with their favorite. Perhaps the most notable is 11-year-old Mason, whose autism is presented as the underlying catalyst for his empathic abilities. His childlike traits and innocent approach to the end of humankind works well in juxtaposition to the violence and chaos of the setting. Gayler’s creativity applied to each persona ensures compelling character arcs.
Gayler quickly captivates readers with a gripping premise teeming with moral and ethical conflicts. On the surface, a vast array of characters fight for basic survival in a world gone mad. Characteristics of the unaffected showcase both ends of the moral spectrum: vile actions that target the vulnerable versus empathy and sacrifice for the innocents. Digging deeper into the absorbing narrative allows readers to explore ideas regarding faith, compassion, and survival. AI’s unsettling potential serves as a stark warning, and Gayler excels at placing humanity’s reliance on technology under a microscope and dissects the topic through a vivid and imaginative futuristic reality. SF fans will enjoy the moral debate presented in this engaging thriller.
Takeaway: Gripping story of AI gone awry and the heroes tasked with saving humanity.
Comparable Titles: Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse, Daniel Suarez’s Daemon.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A