To Make a Perfect World by John Wormser
To Make a Perfect World is a political thriller set in the near future. The world is on the edge of political collapse; a radical Rabbi in Israel wants to destroy his neighbours in a pre-emptive strike, while in Germany the far-right and well-funded activist Eric Dain is gaining support for his xenophobic agenda. Something has to be done to stop the world dissolving into chaos.
US President Ron Senate and his CIA Director William Tauriac have therefore devised a plan called Operation Pax, a computer chip they can implant into the brains of dangerous people in power and influence their behaviour for the better. If the plan works it will usher in world peace, but do the ends justify the means?
The story is told from a variety of points of view, but the main characters are two US agents in the program, Patrick and Kim (who are in a secret relationship that everyone knows about), the US President and the journalist Thomas Desmond who suspects something is wrong when an ex-girlfriend starts acting strangely. Of these I found Thomas the most interesting; he is egotistical, calculating and cold, letting no one get in his ambition of advancement. In contrast the two agents are slightly less developed (although they are at the heart of most of the action sequences), which made one of the major plot points seem to come out of the blue. I thought the characters hadn’t quite earned that choice yet and acted because the story demanded it of them (although they go into the details of why later it still rings a little hollow). The subplot containing Reverend Grinham also doesn’t quite have the courage to follow through on its convictions, and I would have liked to have an alternative cause explored, as it would have given the President more pause for thought in his ultimate plan. On the other hand, the mechanics of how the chip works and how it guides the behaviour of the target are interesting and well thought out, and I very much enjoyed that part of the story.
The dilemma the President faces and his plans for the future are well explored through dialogue and speeches, and it’s clear he has a line in the sand he will not cross not matter the consequences. While this is a very noble concept, it does make him seem a bit naive when things start to unravel. I wouldn’t have thought that one gets to the Office of President without a lot of compromise and re-adjustment of one’s moral compass, especially if the future of the nation is at stake. Also, while lofty and idealistic, the President’s ultimate goal did not ring true with me and again weakened him in my eyes as a realistic character. One just has to look at the long term results of the Arab Spring or the difficulties the Euro is facing to see the potential flaws in his plans. I did make me wonder that perhaps someone put a chip in his head too?
Perfect World is a fairly short book and as a result doesn’t hang around, so if a fast pace is what you’re after it ticks the boxes there. I would, however, preferred it to have been a bit longer as some plot points are skipped over, and the end especially felt rushed and a bit unsatisfying.
One thing to be aware of is that the book has some serious formatting issues (odd and inconsistent paragraph indenting, some large gaps between words), as well as quite a few grammar and spelling problems. There are also no chapter page breaks or an indexed table of contents, making navigation a bit tricky. This has not affected the final score, as I don’t believe people brave enough to hone their craft in public should be vilified for technical issues, but many other bloggers and reviewers may come down hard on it as a result. I would therefore implore the author to give it another round of editing.
Perfect World is at its best when asking the questions of how far is too far in the quest for peace? Does the free will and liberty of one despot matter more than that of the world? Is brainwashing ever justified for the greater good? For that reason alone, I think it’s worth picking up.
Rating: 3 / 5
Disclaimer and disclosure. This book was bought by me from Amazon.co.uk through BooksGoSocial.com. All opinions are my own, and I am receiving no payment for the review, either by financial or review-swap means.