Wow. Shorter is sometimes better when it comes to scary, effective, and engrossing genre fiction. Burke’s Offline is a perfect example of a wicked-quick read that touches on modern social media, and exploits it in order to play with our fears. I mean, doesn’t everyone have some fear about what happens online?
What follows is the transcript from a series of screenshots emailed to the Columbus City Police on June 7th, 2011, and subsequently distributed to the media.”
Everyone has a page…
In the last few years, social networking has exploded as one of the best and easiest means of keeping in touch with people. It increases your visibility, allows the creation of a profile that shows you to the world and lets them know everything about you.
Allows anyone to find you.
As I said earlier, with Offline, Burke exploits our innate fears of social media and our sometimes irresponsble willingness to share personal and intimate moments with virtual strangers, even going so far as to call them our “friends”.
Presented in a rapid fire succession of instant messages through Facebook, Offline reads almost like evidence in a criminal proceeding. While the delivery is very simple, and could be easily written off as a quick write, it’s Burke’s delivery that really shows his ability as a powerhouse in modern genre fiction. He truly understands the minds of those who use social outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, and injects himself into the mindset of today’s youth seamlessly.
The characters in this book, Josh and Mandy, start off in a normal manner, introducing themselves to each other with the standard “Thanks for the add” message. What seems like an innocuous interaction eventually turns into a creepy exchange, and ultimately into a caustic exchange that results in some of the greatest shivers I’ve read in a piece that tackles this subject manner. The dynamic between the players here is impressive, and Burke’s ability to inject so much emotion into such a restrained media format is incredible. Someone with less skill might completely botch this approach, but Burke truly hits the nail on the head, presenting something modern, creepy, and bordering on a cautionary tale that is steeped in technological urban legend.
A great, short, and addictive read, Offline is a fantastic introduction to a brilliant author and his ability to write in many different styles. Burke has a very clearly defined voice in the genre, and goes ample distances to entertain the reader. This is a must have for all of you social media junkies out there.