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Book Review: Civil Terror Gridlock

CIVIL TERROR GRIDLOCK by J. Luke Bennecke is a riveting story raising questions about artificial intelligence and security. Check out what Manik Chaturmutha has to say in her review of this indie thriller novel.

Book Review: Civil Terror Gridlock

Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha

A riveting story raising questions about artificial intelligence and security 

Civil Terror: Gridlock is the first novel in the Jake Bendel adventure series. The thriller leaves readers a bit uneasy, hitting close to home, as it discusses elements related to the growing influence of artificial intelligence, increased human dependence on technology, rising extremism worldwide, and more.

The novel is based several years into the future when self-driving cars have revolutionized the American transport system. The protagonist is civil engineer Dr. Jake Bendel, the scientist who led the conceptualization and implementation of the fully automated driving system called the Sûr System. 

However, disaster strikes when a supposed glitch in the Sûr System kills over 6,000 people in Los Angeles, followed by a deadly “CDM” attack on the California freeways. When these seemingly random attacks put the Sûr System into the crosshairs, the FBI begins connecting dots to a larger terrorist conspiracy at play. Dr. Jake Bendel is brought into the loop by Special Agent Cavanaugh, and they race against the clock to stop a potentially fatal terrorist attack that could claim the lives of millions of Americans in a matter of seconds.

Paired with the thrilling plot, this book raises questions on a number of relevant themes. It shows readers a future that might not be too distant—a future when a woman is finally the President of the United States of America, when self-driving cars are not merely status symbols for billionaires but commonplace items for the general public, and when extremism spreads rapidly.

As a civilization, we are on the verge of a massive technological revolution. However, while technology’s benefits are immense and publicly discussed, what is often underestimated is the negative impacts of technology over-dependence. Data security is one of the most important concerns related to AI today, and this book does such an excellent job of conveying that. Can AI be trusted with sensitive information and with the lives of millions of citizens on the road? 

The writing style is engaging. It really does feel like we’re watching an action-packed movie. The author has used timeline diagrams in the book to ensure readers do not feel confused, and the pacing, while slow at some points, is mostly consistent.

The author has developed Jake Bendel’s character fabulously throughout Civil Terror: Gridlock. He is portrayed as empathetic and compassionate yet logical and rational. Even the character of Viktor Johnston, the antagonist, has been shaped in a way that readers can understand his mindset.

Even though the plot is action-packed with threats, bombings, assassinations, and whatnot, the relationship between Jake and his daughter Carlie provides a heart-warming, soft element to the story, working to create balance.

A series of dangerous and exciting events come to a head in what can only be described as a breathtaking climax to this book. Fans of technology and thrillers will undoubtedly love reading this book.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Technothriller

Print Length: 492 pages

ISBN: 978-0965771528

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