If you are a person who enjoys books filled with political intrigue, computer hacking, election tampering, the pains of starting an online business, and rich billionaires wondering where to spend their money, you will find a great blending of all of these in the recent political thriller from A. C. Fuller. The book is called “Open Primary” and it is the first in a sequence of books to be released in the “Ameritocracy” series. I have previously reviewed Mr. Fullers book called “Anonymous Source” and found “Open Primary” just as well written and enjoyable even though the genre is not one of my favorites. I was both entertained and engaged while listening and continued to wonder how things were going to pan out in the end. The book is masterfully narrated by Annie Ellicott and Jeff Hays from Soundbooth Theatre productions. If you have listened to anything else by this team, you know you are going to get a professional audiobook narration. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it apart from one caveat. The first book ends quite abruptly and at a point where much of the scenario is setup and nothing more. The book never closes up any lose ends and the listener is left having to pick up the next in the series. Today, there are currently three audiobooks available on Audible. I would have preferred some closure or a less unexpected ending than what I was given.
What is the book about? Well, Mia has an idea where she blends a bit of reality TV, politics, and social media in an attempt to select the top independent party member for the upcoming 2020 elections. She is tired of the two-party system always winning the presidential elections and would like to see a person who is from the people, for the people, and selected by the people to be our country’s leader and chief. She creates a small website having a small budget, she only sees a small number of people drawn to her ideals, but she knows there is so much potential in her ideas. Things go from small scale to rapid growth after a wealthy investor puts up a rather large sum of money to both fund their system and pay out the prize money needed for their incumbent. Complicate things even more when the team discovers people have hacked into their system while others have found ways of gaming the system and quickly raising the ranks of individuals. It is similar to digital ballot stuffing which must be stopped. Mia and the team need to correct these loopholes while also keeping the completion fair and honest. Little does she know how hard this task will be.
As with his previous work, A. C. Fuller is able to include a fair amount of mystery and detailed story telling while adding in elements of subtle humor as a means of tension release. I enjoyed how Mia’s new pet was named and I can say that I have a very similar issue with my own. When starting the book, I thought to myself, what could go wrong when you blend elections, social media, reality TV and hacking. Well, the author does an exceptional job of letting us know in this story. I thought the characters were well developed and the scenes well portrayed. There are a few stereotypical characters such as Benjamin the computer nerd, the theologically incorrect reverend, along with a few others. Overall, the characters were enjoyable and kept to their expected behaviors throughout the book. I have been in the information security field for many years, and understand this book is a piece of fiction, but I would have like to have had more realistic hacking and protection than what was portrayed. Maybe a bit more research in this area would have made the book that much more enjoyable for me. Again, there is a fine line to walk as the book is more a political thriller than a book around computer hacking. So, I can give it some leeway on this and just enjoy everything else.
As I stated earlier, the audiobook’s narration is performed by the wonderful team at Soundbooth Theatre productions. I can say that I very much enjoyed both Mrs. Ellicott and Mr. Hays ability to voice the numerous characters. They breathed life and emotion into the characters giving them all quite unique personalities. Let me say that I believe Mrs. Ellicott went out of her way to make this book enjoyable. Her voice seemed to fit what I would have expected from both Mia and her co-worker characters. The audio included a few small sound effects giving the audiobook some ambiance, but it was not overly used. I do not recall any audio artifacts while listening (no swallows, page turns, or garbled sound) which I have come to expect from this team. Bringing together a good story and great narration only makes an audiobook that much more gratifying.
For parents and younger readers, I do not remember there being any vulgar language in the book. If there were, it was not obvious while I listened. I did not make note of it for this review which usually means there was none. There are a few light adult topics and romance, but nothing that was overly done. For the younger political student, I think they will find the audiobook fascinating and the ideas new and fresh. Some of the material covered may be more geared towards older audiences. In summary the book was worth my time and I can tell the author put a fair amount of research into the politics and concept of such an endeavor. The characters were solid, the locations were vivid, and the story itself was a rollercoaster of ups and downs as we get a glimpse into Mia’s life and activity. What would I have changed? I would have liked to have either been warned that the audiobook was not a stand-alone piece, but that it required one to purchase more than this audiobook to enjoy the whole thing. I’m not against series, but I thought the ending was quite abrupt and not in a place one would expect it. The book was good and solid, just know that you will need to listen to the others to conclude the story.