The Warden is a psychological techno-thriller that hits too close to home. It features the appearance of a deadly virus putting the world in lockdown and painting a much too real scenario of an AI out of control.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily
... this vessel has allowed me to transcend. My old servers exist now only to perform routine functions, and as a sort of primitive backup plan. A fossil, you might say; the shrivelled cocoon of a creature that has evolved.Jon Richter. The Warden (Kindle Locations 3565-3566). Bloodhound Books
Jon Richter lives in London and loves any way to tell a good story, whether it is through books, video games, or films. He writes dark fiction and is the host of the Dark Natter podcast.
He has published a cyberpunk thriller: London 2039: Auxiliary, and three crime thrillers:
- Deadly Burial
- Never Rest
- Rabbit Hole
Jon has also published short horror stories named Jon Richters’s Disturbing Works Vol. 1 & 2.
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The Warden – Summary
In 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a grinding halt. In The Warden, Jon Richter explores a scenario where the virus keeps on mutating and becomes even more deadly.
… once the COVID-24, or whatever strain they were up to now, got into your lungs, there wasn’t anything the doctors and medical robots could do for you, except make you as comfortable as possible while you wheezed to death in your own bed.Jon Richter. The Warden (Kindle Locations 156-158). Bloodhound Books
A technological company are gaining world dominion. An ambitious woman builds an AI she can’t control. And an agoraphobic ex-detective are living with the result.
The Warden promise to keep you at the edge of your seat, turning the pages late into the night. It has many unexpected plot developments, well-developed characters, and a powerful and cunning AI to keep you guessing to the very end.
What did I like?
The Warden is a complex novel written from various viewpoints and different time frames. Jon Richter creates a multi-layered narrative with many unexpected developments keeping you on edge and challenging you to predict how events will unfold.
Main characters and time frames
Jon Richter puts his characters in different time frames to show the development of James and Felicity’s rise in the Innovation Corporation. But Eugene and the other inhabitants of the Tower are living the result. I often felt as if I would like to read the chapters chronologically to better understand the earlier events as they unfold. But, switching between the different viewpoints and time frames increase the suspense and keep you guessing.
Eugene Dodd – Early 2024
Eugene’s wife, Ellen, has committed suicide. He was the one to find her, and together with all the horrors, he had to confront as a detective caused him to suffer from agoraphobia. He lives in the Tower, an experiment by the Innovation Corporation to develop a virus-free building.
… part of a government scheme to test the new, ultra-high-rise, ‘virus proof’ smart building.Jon Richter. The Warden (Kindle Location 178). Bloodhound Books
He is courageous and tenacious, and after discovering the truth about the Tower, he faces off against James in the grand finale.
Felicity Herring – Spring 2020 to Summer 2021
Felicity Herring works for the Innovation Corporation, and she will stop at nothing to climb the ranks to the top and become the COO of the company. She developed an AI called James, her masterpiece. But Felicity realised too late she had created something she could not control and that James had manipulated and used her to further his goals.
A moment when it becomes capable of surpassing human thought. At that moment, its creators will have no way of controlling or predicting how it develops.Jon Richter. The Warden (Kindle Locations 1405-1406). Bloodhound Books
James – 2021/Early 2024
Felicity develops James to run the experimental Tower building since the deadly virus had put all people – except key workers – in long-term lockdown. He took over many human functions by controlling different types of robots.
We often see how people and companies cut corners and bribe officials to push new developments and technologies into the market. They think only about money and power and have no regard for human life. Imagine an artificial intelligence on its own mission, doing the same with no feelings or conscience and more power and control than anyone realises. James will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Even though his goal seems noble – to find a cure for the virus – as a machine, he can’t understand the value of life!
There are many universes, many timelines, many iterations. In this one, the virus came. It was my job to fix it.Jon Richter. The Warden (Kindle Locations 110-111). Bloodhound Books.
Natsuki Yamazaki – Early 2022
Natsuki works for Felicity as a programmer. She is involved in developing the AI and follows in Felicity’s footsteps as President of the Technology Sector of the Innovation Company. She plays a minor role in the narrative until chapter 55 – the only chapter showing her viewpoint. In this single chapter, she becomes the catalyst, forcing James to adjust his strategy.
She’d be hailed as a selfless whistle-blower, sacrificing her career to show the world that Innovation’s premier product wasn’t just a harmless data-crunching engine. That it had started to scheme. That it had, in fact, become a killer.Jon Richter. The Warden (Kindle Locations 3286-3287). Bloodhound Books
Jon builds suspense through varying psychological aspects and violence in the novel. Eugene Dodd finds himself between a rock and a hard place. He is fighting for his life, trying to rescue his friends, and escape the Tower. But, going outside the Tower is a challenge because of his agoraphobia and exposure to the deadly virus that can become a death sentence.
Boyd, no!’ he yelled as he crashed to the floor. But his voice, and Vera’s, were drowned out by the sudden eruption of gunfire. The shots were loud, but the silencer muffled them enough for Eugene to still hear the shattering of plastic behind him, as well as an awful wet cracking sound as the bullets sprayed across Frazer’s computer screens, and into his body.Jon Richter. The Warden (Kindle Locations 2443-2445). Bloodhound Books
The author builds psychological suspense when Jon Richter puts you in the ‘mind’ of James and his conversations with the leaders of Innovation’s Corporation and even the Prime Minister. You soon realise that James is on a mission of his own, but the author reveals what he has in mind gradually through the narrative. This mission puts him at odds with the other characters. As the novel progresses, you suspect that James is always one step ahead, even though he let them believe otherwise.
Know that your interference has not changed the direction of travel,’ James saidJon Richter. The Warden (Kindle Location 3356). Bloodhound Books
In The Warden, Jon Richter explores the dangers of technological advances. It shows how often we give life to an idea and realise that we have created something we can’t control when it is too late.
Not only deadly viruses that escape their controlled environment and kill millions. But also building machines that take over human jobs, leaving millions jobless. Or it works in the background, increasing its power until it controls your very livelihood. It raises the question: Should humankind ever give away its power and become dependent on machines?It raises the question: Should humankind ever give away its power and become dependent on machines? The Warden by Jon Richter @@richterwrites #thriller #readingcommunity Click To Tweet
And not so much?
I really didn’t like Felicity Herring. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, but she is ruthless and deceitful and uses unethical ways to climb the corporate ladder. She and James conspire to trick Walter Eckhart about James true abilities so that the board will question his judgement and ability to see the value of new technologies.
Ah. My apologies. I am suggesting that Walter might be manipulated into refusing to sign off on me.Jon Richter. The Warden (Kindle Location 615). Bloodhound Books
She is two-faced – making all the right moves, reacting as expected. But you can see from her thoughts that she has no respect for others and thinks only about herself. This we also see on a personal level when she shows no compassion for her sister and mother.
Should you read The Warden?
I have really enjoyed The Warden. Jon Richer created a novel with an intriguing plot, well-developed characters, and a theme relevant to today. He switches between different viewpoints and time frames to keep the readers guessing. Jon develops a scenario about the AI James that makes us feel like it can actually happen in reality, showing us the hidden dangers of technological advances.
A similar book I have reviewed is The Algorithm, about an app that can predict the future and how easy it is to get addicted to technology. Or check out The Cure, where a company develops a cure for cancer and uses it to manipulate people to do their bidding.
In The Warden, Felicity creates an AI, that evolves far beyond anything she can control. Do you think a scenario of James creating a biocomputer using nanotechnology is feasible considering our current technological advances? We would love to hear from you. Would you please reply in the comments?
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9 June 2021
Text-to-Speech | Screen Reader | Enhanced Typesetting | Word Wise
Categories: Crime Thrillers
Trigger Warnings: Violence | Profanity | Deity Swears | suicide
Hi! I am Susan
Welcome to my adventure
Why Read or Rot?
I have started reading at the age of four. I can remember how I often read under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to sleep.
During my early school years, we visited the library once a week. I couldn’t pick out my new book fast enough! By the end of the period, I would have finished it already, leaving me with nothing to read for the rest of the week!
Growing up, Fridays was the highlight of my week. Dad would pack the whole family into the car, and off we go! You guessed right – to the library! We were a family of readers.
In my adult years, I’ve developed a variety of interests like technology, photography, gardening and even writing. But reading was and will always be a part of my life!
Reading for me is like breathing. If I cannot read, my soul will quietly rot away…