I received The Virus Coder's Girl from 1889 Labs for review. I was initially drawn to this book simply by the title and, yes, the cover art. Being married to a computer programmer, I’m always intrigued to read about programming, hacking, virus creation, and the like.
This is a story about Greg, an IT guy who is targeted by his boss to become a hacker and virus creator. Just before being offered this amazing promotion, which Greg is under qualified and under educated for, he had fallen for a woman named Ilana at a company party. Upon receiving news of this undeserved opportunity, Greg is told to stay away from Ilana at all costs because she is one of her boss’s favorite girls. Greg assumes that he knows what this means and decides that staying away from Ilana is in his best interest.
As time goes on, Greg becomes good at his job, but it is not what it seems. He becomes overworked during the months following his promotion, and appears to also become paranoid. However, knowing the reach of his boss, his paranoia may be justified.
I really enjoyed the premise of this story, but unfortunately, I cannot say too much about it without giving away the ending. I can however, recommend it to readers, even if you aren’t into the hacker/techie scene. You don’t need an in depth knowledge of computers to understand, follow along, and enjoy this book.
The idea that Greg thought that he was programming one thing, and in reality he was programming something altogether different made no sense to me, until I had it explained. He was using prewritten code, or tools, and putting these blocks of code together like a puzzle for a desire effect. The effect that he was striving to create actually did something similar but in a different medium. This is a very simplified explanation of the way Greg built his viruses.
The author’s use of pop culture buzzwords makes the story seem more dated than it should after only a couple years. A reference to the once overly popular Digg website made me, as a Redditor, cringe. I quickly checked the publication date to find that yes, Digg was the ‘top dog’ when the story was written. Also, in the beginning scene, Greg is wearing a t-shirt with the word ‘pwned’ written across the chest. While this colloquialism is still relevant, it will eventually fade and be replaced with something equally confusing for outsiders.
The story itself is intriguing and well written, and if I’d had the uninterrupted time to read the story from start to finish in one sitting, I certainly would have. I did manage to sneak read throughout the day and finish the story before bedtime. For now, I’m looking forward to my next MCM read, “Fission Chips” which I am starting tomorrow.