Too Much Information by David Haskell is a riveting thriller that explores the possible ramifications of a fear-driven, reactionary society. Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, air travel in the United States was abruptly changed forever. We are all familiar with the safety protocols that were implemented afterwards including banning non-travelers beyond the security checkpoint, stricter screening processes requiring one to arrive at the airport much earlier than previously necessary, and more intense screening. After the attempted shoe bombing, we were then asked to remove our shoes for screening. A failed bomb made from liquids, resulted in all travelers being prohibited from traveling with liquids in quantities over a few ounces. Too Much Information introduces an additional terrorist attempt that is, in fact, frighteningly realistic. Following the very real trend of reacting with stricter policies governing all travelers and the public’s acceptance of these inconveniences and privacy violations in the hopes of staying safe, the story extrapolates to the next level of security screening—thermal magnetic imaging. Although set slightly in the future, the events in Too Much Information will echo those you have heard in the news. As a result, throughout the book you will be forced to ponder how many rights we have surrendered on the premise of security. And you will be terrified by the prospect of what it can lead to for our nation and for all of us when those who are in charge decide to expand their control even further.
One of the best features of the book is the irony of its title. The title Too Much Information is a clever play on words. On the surface, it describes the encroachment of TSA on citizens’ privacy in the attempt to collect what some may consider “too much information.” More subtly, but stated explicitly later in the book for those who missed it, the term Too Much Information (TMI) is a mockery of the TSA’s Thermal Magnetic Imaging technology (aka TMI). The irony of the title though is in how the story itself is written. Haskell intentionally tells the tale in a disjointed manner, giving the reader only small glimpses into the story from different perspectives. In contrast to the title, throughout the book the reader is frantically turning pages trying to collect more information since it is only revealed in snippets. I found this literary strategy to be quite clever (and effective since it kept me from putting the book down!).
Overall, I give Too Much Information 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a great book to motivate you to be more aware of your rights and how they are impacted by others. For this reason, it would make a good book club selection as well. The writing, at times, was a little too disjointed for me and the pace too inconsistent, which is why I wouldn’t rate it 5 stars. It is definitely worth your time though if you enjoy conspiracy thrillers.
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