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ParanoiaReview - Paranoia
A Novel
by Joseph Finder
Audio Renaissance, 2004
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Nov 24th 2004 (Volume 8, Issue 48)

Paranoia provides an excellent case to consider the Amazon.com reader comments system.  Readers are divided on the book: some declare it to be an excellent suspense thriller about the world of high-tech corporations.  They like the theme of industrial spying and say that the surprise ending is astonishing.  They give high praise to the writing and the twists and turns of the plot.  But other readers say how disappointing they found the book.  They complain the writing is clichéd and the final twist of the spy story is completely predictable. 

The book is narrated by Adam Cassidy, a rather foolish man in his twenties with an ability to get himself out of difficult situations by making up tall tales.  At the start of the story, he is working for Wyatt Telecom, but he gets caught using company funds illegally, and the CEO Nick Wyatt coerces Adam into working at their competitor Trion Systems in order to find out about a secret project Trion is developing.  The thrill of the plot comes from Adams espionage and the danger of his getting caught.

As with any spy novel, the central question is who will turn out to be a double-agent, or even a triple-agent.  I am generally very bad at figuring out whodunit in murder mysteries and I rarely able to predict the surprise endings in films like The Sting or The Sixth Sense, but I found the denouement of Paranoia was hardly a bolt from the blue.  Furthermore, as soon as we are introduced to the character of Adam's angry bitter father, who has a serious disease, it is obvious that the old man's death will occur at some emotionally crucial moment of the novel.  Nevertheless, Finder's writing is strong enough to keep the reader enjoying the scenes and wanting to know how the story ends up. 

I wish the novel had more paranoia in it: near the end there is a sequence where Adam is breaking into a building and is in danger of getting caught, and he gets anxious then.  He is also anxious occasionally because he fears getting found out by people at Trion Corporation.  But for the most part, he is amazingly trusting of people when he should be far more suspicious and careful.  For real paranoia, readers will do better to turn to Kafka. 

The unabridged audiobook is read by Scott Brick, who works as well as he can with the narrator's narrow emotional range.  It's a fine audiobook for a long car journey where you can't pay too much attention to the details. 

 

 

© 2004 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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