Books

Book Review: ‘Hooked’ by Matt Richtel

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Think of Hooked like a beach read that you can turn to year-round.

A hypnotic tale of love, loss and technology, Matt Richtel’s debut novel is a smart piece of fiction that doesn’t shy away from the question “Are we addicted to our screens?”

But, like, not in a zombie-esque way where the entire story happens online. Not in a dystopian future/WALL-E kinda way, either (thankfully). Oh, and certainly not in a way that scolds or beats the reader over the head with the author’s own theories and conspiracies.

Hooked gets you thinking by way of a surprisingly refreshing plot that launches immediately. It’s no coincidence that from page one, I was hooked (LOLLL get it?). In fact, I’m not giving anything away by sharing the first scene as the book’s summary: Hooked tells the story of Nathaniel (Nat) Idle, a journalist who barely escapes the bombing of a cafe, thanks to a stranger’s warning to “get out”. A stranger – whose handwriting looks a lot like his dead ex-girlfriend’s.

It was one of those easy reads where I was constantly entertained; perhaps not engrossed, but ever curious. I wondered about the plot once or twice over the two week duration during which I devoured at least a couple of pages every night before bed. I’m still thinking about one of the characters. Though most remained somewhat two-dimensional, a handful revealed unexpected characteristics and made unexpected choices that kept my interest piqued from start to end.

In our over-stimulated society – where every book gets its own movie AND TV series… and then, if it’s good, maybe a musical and a few movie/TV remakes down the line, for good measure – I found a lot of this story’s contents to bring a feeling of newness.

Can stories centered around heartbreak, corporate secrecy or investigative journalism truly feel original? In Richtel’s case, yes. And now that I’m doing a little digging into his background, this comes as no surprise. Richtel himself is a Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times-published journalist.

Richtel is better known for his work A Deadly Wandering, whose (NYT bestselling) nonfiction narrative marries a study on the science of attention with a story about a car crash caused by texting while driving.

Appaaarently, Hooked is the first in a series of three books centered around Nat Idle. I’m not running out to the bookstore for a copy, but I’m sure it would make a fun read, if and when I get around to picking it up. Maybe next summer.

Jess works in the e-commerce and nonprofit industries with a focus on digital marketing, search engine optimization, social media, and public relations. She loves pop punk, performing arts, big cities, books, and chardonnay.

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