Gough, who wrote the ending to the online game 'Minecraft,' favors short sentences. Very short. Almost. Too. Short. His style is Tense . . . Real . . . Vivid. Random italics multiply. Questions . . . hang? My God, you think, it can’t go on like this. It goes on. When Colt orders a pizza, he describes its texture as: 'Weird. Gluey.' So is the plot ... Nevertheless, and despite being several thousand lines of computer code out of my depth, I found Connect propulsively paced and ingeniously twisting. Gough has written a hyperactive, adrenaline-junkie dystopian thriller that deserves to be made into a belter of a film franchise.
Laced throughout with epigrams and quotes from noted scientists and philosophers, Connect imagines a world of systems within systems in which the alteration of a few human cells could have far-reaching and astounding effects on the universe. Recommended for those who enjoy near-future speculation coupled with an engaging and effective exploration of a fractured family.
Sadly, it’s not a book you can recommend to everyone ... Notably, the long, centrepiece chase section will be divisive and hard to follow if you haven’t played 'Grand Theft Auto' or bought an X-Box etc ... Yet Gough’s powerful, playful argument will reward the patient reader. What feels so fresh is that this predictive novel avoids even a hint of the usual doomsday clichés. Instead, the transformative possibilities of technology are embraced—to the point where 'love is an interface between you and the universe' comes to sound joyfully life-affirming rather than alarmingly clinical ... It might not be an enduring classic of literature, but it will subtly change the way you see the world.
...all-action thrills and spills...a hi-tech chase narrative in low-slung prose ... mayhem unfolds in the deadly but jaunty style of a Hollywood action thriller ... In crucial moments, though, the novel loses vigour ... a kind of deus ex machina (or deus ex machine code) resolution that Gough struggles to make vivid ... But while it strikes the odd wrong note, it hits so many others—as a story of family dysfunction plugged into larger questions about reality, evolution and the west’s self-definition as 'the good guys'—that it’s easy to forgive.
What we are left with amounts to a frenetic livestream from Colt’s prodigious consciousness, relieved only by hyperactive digressions on everything from particle physics to cryptography, strange authorial intrusions and an onerous ballast of epigraphs (we don’t need constant interruptions from Bertrand Russell or Ray Kurzweil to appreciate the extent and eclecticism of Gough’s reading). Yet for all its helpless excitability, there is plenty of real excitement in this novel, and a spirit of joyous curiosity that may strain our patience at times but never quite loses its charm. What Gough attempts here is to describe everything at every level, and the effort is in many ways hugely admirable. But fiction subsists on human experience, and it is better, as Colt reminds us, to describe things at the level at which they make most sense.
...in the closing pages, standard-issue gunplay and explosions give way to a woolier conflagration between Colt’s 'gameworld' and the military’s 'immune system.' Undergirding all this is Gough’s repeatedly evoking the command of the book’s title, recalling E.M. Forster’s command to 'only connect' (though Gough's taste in literary quotations favors science-fiction writers like Philip K. Dick). His plea is hard to dispute, and though he delivers it with speed—punchy, one-sentence paragraphs abound—set pieces that endanger and then rescue Colt get repetitive, and the central romance, ironically, gets short shrift. A thought-provoking if attenuated mix of head and heart.