... offers a vivid — if sometimes inartful — portrait of an American political landscape in ugly disarray. Sound familiar? ... Rosenstiel reimagines our headlines in newly nightmarish ways ... If all that feels unpleasantly real, the main characters in Oppo often talk like fundraising letters, too ... While I was often impatient with the novel’s not-how-real-people-talk palaver, I did think about sending some of Rosenstiel’s characters $25 ... Rosenstiel effectively renders wild political times but, unfortunately, his characters don’t come to life in an engaging way, nor do the meant-to-be-sinister figures who eavesdrop electronically or park down on the street menacingly cause much more than mild curiosity. It’s too bad, as the good guys in Oppo do manage to provide a satisfying denouement for Upton’s story — if not, alas, for the country’s.
Rosenstiel...crafts a book that offers the double pleasure of an exciting story and new knowledge--how vetting is carried on in today’s supercharged political world. Will appeal to all lovers of quality political thrillers.
While designed as a thriller, it works better as an insider’s take on the effect of big money on polarized elections ... begins with a barely believable premise ... The leading candidates are flawed. Upton, on the other hand, has a resumé so impressive a reader wonders why she is not running for president herself ... Rosenstiel gives us a marvelous tutorial on how campaigns work in the age of Trump and social media ... During one debate—again nearly unbelievably—candidates from both parties battle with one another ... Rosenstiel’s depiction of this new era is more dramatic and real than his weird plot about the threats to Upton. Despite the cloak and dagger stuff, the involvement of billionaire donors and candidates, shadow corporate entities, and foreign blackmailers, Oppo works best as a guide to the new reality infiltrating presidential politics. In a better thriller, Rena and Brooks would be more than cardboard operatives. Here, they simply propel the action.
A Washington thriller that seems ripped from the headlines ... Rosenstiel, a one-time Washington reporter and author of two previous thrillers, is not afraid to expose the underbelly of contemporary partisan politics and the wealthy donors who control the players. The picture he paints is alarming, as Super PACs, social media, surveillance teams and dark data threaten to overwhelm our democratic processes. One can only hope that the white hats in OPPO also exist in the real world to combat these gathering forces.
...[a] diverting if didactic political novel ... Rosenstiel’s real mission seems to be presenting his take on the horrible state of contemporary politics. As the executive director of the American Press Institute, Rosenstiel has a real understanding of American political life, but the book reads more like a lengthy op-ed piece than a novel.
Rosenstiel's...new novel, like his last, twines around up-to-the-minute political concerns, in this case, the effects of big money on politics ... Big money plays a role as Rosenstiel clearly connects the dots linking wealth to the corrupt manipulation of public policy. Rena and Brooks are as amiable as ever, their expanded associates as clever and more diverse than ever, and the threats posed by unrestrained political money are clearly descried, but the ride could be more compelling. Admirable and sharp political analysis afloat in a lukewarm thriller.