— ♦ —
Clarity, a quaint, close-knit town, has one major problem – they’re suffering financially. So when Fluid Products comes into their town and promises them fat paychecks and local jobs in spite of the down economy, many citizens are eager to jump right into the deal.
However, there are a couple of citizens not so eager. Deborah, the town’s beloved and intelligent psychologist, speaks against Fluid. She believes that the trade-off for Fluid’s deal could be more harmful than helpful. Why let Fluid bottle and take control of Clarity’s water? Isn’t that too powerful a move? Though mayor Roger Trent wants himself and his citizens to be financially well-off, Deborah’s arguments win him over.
In order to give the citizens and council members more time to think, Roger ends the meeting and schedules the next one. In those two weeks leading up to the next meeting, a lot happens
Susan Lanier, the wife of Fluid’s CEO and the woman dead-set on making sure Clarity accepts the deal, is conniving and ruthless. With her sexual expertise and secret partnerships with those in town, she has more than enough fuel to make her goals a reality. She knows that Roger Trent and the Town Manager Samantha are an obstacle Fluid needs to overcome. What better way to do so than to ask a writer for the Clarity Call to publish an article exposing a secret relationship between the mayor and the town manager? After all, that type of relationship can get both of them fired.
When Roger and Samantha come to the Town Hall two weeks later, they are met with a terrible surprise. Not only are they fired, but there is little to nothing stopping Fluid from taking over.
Will Roger, Samantha, Deborah and the few other citizens who see through Fluid be able to come out on top?
The problems facing the protagonists in Clarity is only one half of the novel. The other half is dedicated to the antagonists’ POV. Mike Lanier, CEO of Fluid Products, is only a puppet for Dirk. Dirk, Mike’s boss, is only a puppet – albeit a rising puppet, if he can prove that he’s ruthless enough – for Igor Bruganich, the chairman of the mysterious EEL board. Overpowering Clarity through Fluid Products is but one piece of the pie. EEL’s main goal is to use a number of devices – both mental and physical – to achieve American genocide.
Though The Fifth Device is fiction, much of it is nonfiction as well. The paperback version of this novel is a whopping 462 pages. Many characters give lengthy explanations about their thoughts on corporations, Americans, politics, and government.
Initially, I enjoyed the tangents and lengthy conversations. The Fifth Device is an intelligent book, both in terms of subject matter and writing style. I learned a lot. Though I didn’t always agree with Gunther Boccius’ handling of controversial issues – for instance, his fixation on the idea that LLC’s are to blame for much of America’s problems and must be eliminated to change America – I did enjoy considering his theories and comparing them to my own.
However, after about 200 pages of characters spending pages at a time explaining their theories, I found it hard for me to focus on the fiction. Often, I forgot I was even reading fiction and instead felt like I was reading a series of essays. Whenever the focus went back to the plot, I read with excitement. Whenever I knew another lengthy explanation was on its way, boredom seeped in.
Perhaps what I loved most about The Fifth Device is the writing. Every now and then, it does feel like purple prose, but there are many instances where the phrasing and imagery is poetic and enthralling.
Near the end, the plot fell apart. I wasn’t always certain how to feel about how…outlandish Deborah, Roger, and Samantha could be. The conclusion is idealistic and kind, which is nice, but it did seem too idealistic, definitely considering the conflict’s intensity.
All in all, I enjoyed The Fifth Device because it was smart and well-written. Those who are into theories about politics and corporations would particularly like this. The plot is interesting, the characters distinct, and the genuine love throughout is a nice touch.