By Veronika Muchitsch
Publisher: Myriad Editions
ISBN: 9781838386023

Cyberman is, I think, the most unusual and, perhaps, the most challenging book I’ve reviewed to date. 

It’s based on the real experience of Veronika Muchitsch as she dips in and out of Finnish resident Ari Kivikanga’s 24-hour online streaming of his life. Ari never leaves his home, does very little, and by all accounts is not a particularly well man. This makes this bizarre form of second-hand voyeurism as disturbing and worrying as it is intriguing. 

Ari is beset with trolls and online abuse, but amongst this daily diatribe Veronika is able to chat with Ari (under the guise of LB Jefferies (the character played by James Stewart in Rear Window) and make a connection with him. 

It’s a unique blend of melancholy and despair peppered with a stark and almost brutal honesty. In many respects, it’s unlike any book you will ever have read before. Despite the manner in which Ari is living, Veronika is able to peel back the sadder layers and reveal the real person underneath. This is possible because she takes the time to connect with him, rather than treat him as an oddity or a spectacle to watch. You can’t help but feel that those actions, that culminated in this book, made a positive difference to Ari.

I don’t think I could have ever been one of the viewers of Ari’s day-to-day online existence, but I’m glad I got to read his story in print. A genuinely unique book, from cover to cover.

And if you liked that: Try Coma, by Zara Slattery, also from Myriad, for another unusual book that dares to be a little different and challenge the reader.

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