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The Milkman: A Freeworld Novel by Michael J.…
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The Milkman: A Freeworld Novel

by Michael J. Martineck

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The world of The Milkman is intriguing: Government has gone by the wayside, replaced and displaced by three global corporations. Every adult is an employee of one of these three corporations, and their place in society depends on their pay grade--the lower the better.

Our story begins with the stabbing death of a young woman marketing researcher, and the investigation of this "act of insubordination" by Ambyr System Security (ASS) operative Ed McCallum. Though not immediately evident, this incident gets wrapped up with an independent website reporting on the quality of dairy products in upstate New York (excuse me, Niagara Falls Catchment). "The Milkman" is, in turn, to become the subject of a would-be blockbuster documentary by Sylvia Cho.

The story is told through the perspectives of McCallum, Cho, and Emory Leveski, "the Milkman." Michael Martineck explores aspects of this world, asking the Big Question of "What does a world run exclusively by an oligopoly look like?

Another not-exactly Big Question explored by The Milkman is timely: When everything we know about the world sits in a device the size of a blood-pressure cuff wrapped around our forearm, what do you really know? There are two scenes where one character asks another to "make a call" for them, and the respondent had never done such a thing!

Of course, at least as important about that cuff is that it contains everything your employer knows about you. For this reason, some folks go offline to live outside society. These "ollies" play a role too.

The Milkman is an interesting story, with insights on criminal justice, corporate control, and the logistics of the movie business. Worth checking out. ( )
  workingwriter | May 11, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book as a part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I've tried to pick it up several times now, and I haven't been able to get through more than the first 50 pages or so. The world that The Milkman is set in is trying too hard to be clever and make a statement, and the characters fall flat on the page. Maybe one day I'll come back to this, but I just could not get into it.

The review copy from the publisher was also an uncorrected proof in PDF format. It was poorly laid out and difficult to read on my e-reader. When I attempt this book again I will have to read it on my laptop screen, which is a sub-optimal reading experience as well. I think the provided format contributed to my inability to get through this book. ( )
  junerain | Feb 3, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I didn't actually finish this book. In part this was because the pace was a little slow for me but also because the copy I had was supplied in protected PDF format meaning that I couldn't make notes in text as I would normally do nor even mark my place so that I could switch between documents.

The characterisation and writing style were good but I just couldn't get excited about it.

Not a bad book, just not for me. ( )
  Mary.Moore | Oct 18, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The novel starts with an intriguing opening:

"TO EDWIN MCCALLUM every act of insubordination was a work of art. Charcoal sketch thefts. Abstract expressionist assaults. A smuggling operation could have all the intricacies of an oil landscape. Despite this, he considered very few policy transgressions to be masterpieces."

When I read that, I thought--huh, that's interesting; a detective obsessed with art, who will probably evaluate a crime scene with the viewpoint of an art critic.

*This should be good,* I thought, based on those first few lines.

Unfortunately, the art aspect was almost immediately dropped. It had no effect on the rest of the opening scene, and suddenly seemed tacked-on; included simply because the author believed it was a cool piece of writing (which it is).

As the story progressed, that kept happening--cool ideas being introduced, but not really going anywhere. The first chapter was a jumble of half-scenes inelegantly crammed together, with characters and ideas and locations blipping in and out of the story without a clear connection to each other. (I imagine that's going to be stumbling block for most would-be readers--the beginning is confusing, the characters not quite sympathetic enough to make the reader care about them.)

Again, the novel has some cool ideas, in particular the parts about the detective who must stay conscious of his budget when investigating a murder (in a world where corporations control everything, they don't want too spend *too* much if the victim was of little financial value.)

Yet, all in all, the story felt oddly tame, and compared to other dystopian stories, it came up lacking for me. It doesn't have the kind of biting satire and giddy surrealism than made Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" such a joy to watch, nor did it have the kind of palpable paranoia and epic climax that made Alan Moore's "V for Vendetta" a masterpiece. It's a very speech-y story, with lots of dialogue where characters talk about their strange world and how it came to be that way, but not enough action. It felt, ultimately, like an early draft; the confusing opening felt like the work of an author who's still struggling with pacing and scene breaks, and the over-use of poetic similes in description felt self-indulgent.

Because the novel does have some interesting, unique ideas, it may be worth your while to check out the first chapter and see what you think, particularly if you love dystopian stories and want something new to read. It's different from the average world-gone-wrong story, though whether it's different in a good way or not, I'm still pondering. ( )
  mvalhara | Sep 21, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I found the pdf copy very annoying. I will have to make sure to avoid those like the plague in the future.

This is the only book I have read by the author. The beginning was very hard to get into, the jumping around between characters made it difficult to understand for me until well into half-way thru the book. I did finally get to the point where I wanted to find out how if finished and the finish was OK. But I don't think I am interested in any follow-ups with this story. ( )
  rkchr | Sep 19, 2014 |
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In the near future, corporation rules every possible freedom. Without government, there can be no crime. And every act is measured against competing interests, hidden loyalties and the ever-upward pressure of the corporate ladder. Any quest for transparency is as punishable as an act of murder. But one man has managed to slip the system, a future-day robin hood who tests diary milk outside of corporate control and posts the results to the world. When the Milkman is framed for a young girl's murder and anonymous funding comes through for a documentary filmmaker in search of true art beneath corporate propaganda, eyes begin to turn and soon the hunt is on. Can the man who created the symbol of the Milkman, the only one who knows what really happened that bloody night, escape the corporate rat maze closing around him? Or is it already too late?… (more)

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