Title: We See Everything
Author: William Sutcliffe
Publication Date: September 21st 2017
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟
Lex lives on The Strip – the overcrowded, closed-off, bombed-out shell of London. He’s used to the watchful enemy drones that buzz in the air above him.
Alan’s talent as a gamer has landed him the job of his dreams. At a military base in a secret location, he is about to start work as a drone pilot.
These two young men will never meet, but their lives are destined to collide. Because Alan has just been assigned a high-profile target. Alan knows him only as #K622. But Lex calls him Dad.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review!
The premise of We See Everything sounded much better than what it actually was. I love stories that focus on the controversy of mass surveillance because it’s an actual thing that most of us are probably aware of but don’t give much thought to.
Written in dual POV, the book alternates between the two sides of debate, following the lives of Lex and Alan. As a reader, I felt very distanced from these characters and, in a way, I thought this lack of emotion towards them reflected the real-life relationship between the watcher and the watched. The same relationship that exists between Alan and Lex.
I’m also not sure what it says about me if I enjoyed the pilot perspective more? I don’t agree with mass surveillance, and definitely not if it’s covert. At least, in this futuristic world, the civilians know they are being observed through the constant presence of drones. Set in a dystopian London – known as The Strip – it very much mirrors the current political landscape in many parts of the world today, with the author himself taking inspiration from the Gaza conflict.
Aside from the interesting concept though, the book fails to deliver plot wise and there wasn’t much in terms of world-building. There was only one major conflict at the end of the novel and no sense of urgency despite Lex’s father knowing he is a target, putting his entire family at risk. There is also a romance that I literally could not care less about, and it felt very sudden since time seemed to pass between chapters and also within chapters.
Overall, I liked the concept of this book. I hoped it would deliver a similar experience to watching Snowden – Oliver Stone’s dramatization on the life of the NSA whistle-blower – but I guess it mostly didn’t because of the different medium. I didn’t care for any of the characters but this was still an interesting read, exploring topics we should be having conversations about and providing an insight into a world we could all soon be living in.