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Net Switch Paperback – March 19, 2014
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About the Author
Denise Baer is a native of the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from DePaul University. She is the author of a collection of poetry, Sipping a Mix of Verse, comprised of traditional form and free verse, and a women's fiction novel, Fogged Up Fairy Tale. Denise currently resides in Germany with her husband and four-legged baby, Shakespeare, learning German and working on her next project. Please visit Denise Baer at her website - www.authordenisebaer.com
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In order to alleviate her suffering, the narrator finds herself in more than one risky situation. Sydney finds herself looking for attention in online chat rooms. When she identifies herself as "Newbie," a gentleman aptly named Arcane moves in to claim his prey. Sydney makes every mistake that can be made when it comes to meeting people online. It comes as no surprise that the relationship that springs from such secrecy results in pain and frustration for Sydney.
The book is written as a series of journal entries, but from the viewpoints of two narrators. Caitlyn's entries (fewer and farther in between) seem a bit jarring and unrelated at first, but given how the setting of Net Switch locates the narrator in a mental institution on the first page, the two seemingly disconnected narrators soon morph into two sides of a sad tale.
The narrative is written in a close first-person point of view. Italics are often used to show Sydney carrying on an inner-monologue. The author impressively sustains the almost suffocating perspective throughout the novel, which is no small writing feat. Indeed, the limitations of the narrative voice provide the novel's utterly engrossing appeal.
The connection between the two voices shown in the journal entries could have perhaps been bridged a bit better with an outside transition between the two, such as another character shown reading the entries to help provide more context. Another small quibble would be in the sexually gratuitous videos found on YouTube and the seemingly inept police officers that appear in the story. Yet, considering the fragile and skewed mindset of both narrators, the reader starts to question their own perceptions of the text.
Sydney then moves to Seattle for a fresh start, but she really just begins slowly unraveling all over again. The reader may question how she affords such a move, but that's all in the fun of reading this book. Indeed, the reader will question almost everything by the end.
The sex and language flow naturally as part of the story, and overly graphic scenes are not dwelled upon, but could potentially not be to some readers' taste. However, great literature seeks to capture all walks of life, and Net Switch does just that.
JeriWB's Rating: 4.5 Stars ("Really Liked It")
A complimentary copy was provided by the author in exchange for this review.
Ms. Baer writes in the first person perspective in the guise of journal entries by various characters; Sydney being the primary point of view. The novel focuses primarily on the plot with little attention given to much else. However, this most likely is a conscious decision of the author and can be consistent with the genre. It would not be much of a thriller if all the characters' secrets were revealed from the start! Some word choices seem out of place and plain, but otherwise the style and writing are above par.
The development and depiction of Sydney by Ms. Baer is spot on. She wanted to create a flawed and insecure character and was successful. Readers will most likely find themselves emotionally angry and dumbfounded by the protagonist and her decisions.
It is a struggle at first to relate to her, but is intended. Sydney is a character that creates feelings of both empathy and apathy; a walking oxymoron. This does well to display the dynamics and complexity of her character which deserves attention.
Despite all its strengths, there are some concerns. Ms. Baer's depiction of policemen throughout the novel is unnerving and throws up a few red flags. The majority of officers manage to ignore, ridicule, or inspire fear for our heroine. This negative portrayal will not inspire confidence in readers about law enforcement, but it is important to note that in many professions there are those that under and overachieve. Perhaps the author intends to warn readers about the pitfalls of blind faith in institutions that the public relies on? To nitpick, the constant hammering of certain phrases in a different font hammers the point across; nearly to the verge of annoyance.
The writing style takes some getting used to, but begins to flow after only a few pages. This novel is a must read for thrill-seekers and fans of psychological journeys. Sexual content does make an appearance, but is far from distasteful. This genre and style is truly unique and stands apart. I cannot wait to see the reception for the novel and for more works from Ms. Baer. Exceptional writing with a strong finish!
I decided to purchase and download Denise's book 'Net Switch' and to write a review as 'pay forward'.
When I began to read the book - honestly it was a little different from the books I normally read and initially had issues of 'getting a hold of what was happening'. Eventually the storyline began to focus on a character Sydney, whose initial experience in a chat room took me on a journey of intrigue and wonderment.
From that moment onward I couldn't put the book down. From one disturbing story to another forced me to continue reading to see what was going to happen next. Denise has captured imagination as a writer. She used journal enteries to tell the story of a person's life and used her writing craft to keep the reader clicking their e-reader button to go to the next page.
The story has so many twists and turns, I needed to keep reading late into the night wanting to know 'what happened next'. I couldn't sleep until I knew what happened in the story. It actually took over my life. Today I completed the book.
Denise, I must say you did a terrific job in writing this book. Not only would it have taken much research but determination to 'get the story right'. I commend you on a great story with a finish to leave this reader with a feeling of relief to know I was satisfied and it will remain in my memory for some time.