Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Accidental Activist

The Accidental Activist by Alon Shalev
Three Clover Press, October 2010
Trade Paperback, 272 pages
ISBN-13: 9780981955353


David meets Goliath in the law courts of England in the 1990's. The advent of the Internet is leveling the playing field as a multinational corporation tries to silence two young political activists in a riveting court case that captivates the political and business world's attention.
The company will try anything (sex, espionage, bribery and coercion) to stop or win this case. In fighting the corporation, a self-absorbed computer programmer discovers romance and a way to change the world one mega-pixel at a time.

My Thoughts:

The Accidental Activist by Alon Shalev is a novel based upon the McDonald’s libel trial that took place in England in the 1990’s. In the novel two young activists, with nothing but raw determination, take on a multinational corporation that tries to silence them. At the same time a young computer programmer discovers the power of the internet after he sets up a website to support the cause of the woman he wants to have a relationship with.

I'm torn on this one. On one hand I really was engrossed in the actual story of the legal case. It totally held my attention and was, in truth, the reason I accepted a review copy. It's always inspirational to read about ordinary citizens taking on multinational corporations and some of their nefarious practices. It was also very interesting to learn about Great Britain's archaic libel laws that were still in place in the 1990s. The courtroom drama part of The Accidental Activist was riveting.

On the other hand,  I also experienced two less than stellar impressions.The rather graphic sex scene at the beginning of the novel seemed out of place, especially in comparison to the rest of the novel. To be honest, I would have stopped reading right then except for the fact that I had promised to review the novel. I was glad I kept reading because the scene was a fluke. The novel improved dramatically and I was hooked... but that just reinforced the awkwardness of the early sex scene.

The other thought I had was this: Since it is set in the 90's during the time when the internet was just emerging as a powerful tool to influence people and spread information, the setting also had the effect of making the novel feel dated because the internet is now so much a part of our daily lives. The 1990s wasn't that long ago, but, in the case of technology, it was. Keeping this dichotomy in mind while you are reading will be helpful. It's likely any "historical" novel that is actually set in rather recent times will induce the same feeling.

All in all, I enjoyed The Accidental Activist and would Recommend it, especially if you enjoy courtroom dramas.

Come back tomorrow for a guest post by author Alon Shalev where he discusses his "Transformational Fiction."

Disclaimer: I accepted a copy of this novel for review purposes.


 “The truth, Your Honor, is that I got involved because of a woman, the defendant.”  opening

 I looked at myself in the mirror—for only the eighth or ninth time that hour. A smooth-shaven, pathetically optimistic Romeo peered back, reassuring me that, should the Juliet of my dreams turn up at tonight’s party, I was surely in with a chance. pg. 1

“Here’s the deal. You’re having a miserable time, and I need to get out of here quick. You have a car. I need a lift. You drive me home, and I don’t invite you in. Impress me with your conversation and we’ll stop at my local on the way and I’ll buy you a drink. Whatcha say?” pg. 5

“Tomorrow I’m busy.” She paused, thought for a moment then her face lit up. “But I will see you Sunday, noon at Hyde Park Corner. Then, my brave knight, I’ll treat you to lunch.”
“Hyde Park Corner. I haven’t been there for a while.” Actually, I couldn’t recall when I had last been there, no doubt incidentally passing through. “It’ll be crowded. How will I find you?” pg. 8

As we walked through the park, Suzie explained about their campaign to stop oil drilling somewhere in South America. Her adrenaline was still flowing from the speech, and her words were filled with excitement.
She didn’t stop talking until we reached the restaurant she had chosen. It was a crowded place with simplistic d├ęcor and natural pine furniture. The high roof and long windows made the place naturally light. A vibrant energy exuded from my fellow diners, a contrast to my largely fast-food culinary experience. pg. 14

We both laughed. Then she squeezed my arm and looked up—her face serious. “Getting involved with me will throw you in at the deep end, you know. But if we’re going to have any chance together, well, this is my life. You understand?”
I nodded. “Yeah I do.” I didn’t have a clue. pg. 19

When he finished, I turned to Luke. "What happened? Where's Suzie?"

"They've been arrested, mate, Suzie and Bill. They'll charge them with libel. Seems we've pulled the tiger's tail too hard and it's decided to take us seriously. The others arrested will apologize. They're people with jobs, assets and dependants. Suzie and Bill will go to court." pg. 42

"British libel laws are archaic. They haven't been revised literally in centuries. With libel, no one is entitled to legal representation. In fact, they enjoy very few rights." pg. 43

1 comment:

Teddy Rose said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the courtroom parts. I couldn't help but root for Matt and Suzie.