4 out of 4 stars
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Bad Choices Make Good Stories: Going to New York, is a dark and humorous novel written by Oliver Markus Malloy. Based on true events, this novel takes us on a fascinating journey through the life of Oliver. We meet him as a teenage hacker in Germany before he begins his life in New York. Once there, we join him in his adventures as a cartoonist, cab driver, production manager, and internet millionaire. His story is not one for the easily offended or the faint of heart. It includes sex and bad relationships, drugs and codependency, crime, betrayal, and abusive situations. It is told with a no-holds-barred kind of honesty.
I think the beginning chapter, titled “Prostitution,” is written to somewhat set the stage for the rest of the novel. Oliver Markus Malloy takes this time not only to grab our attention, but also to warn readers of the lack of censorship within his novel. He pokes fun a little at America and our tendency to over-censor things like “bad” language and harmless nudity. Oliver grew up in a much more liberal environment.
With the stage now set, the author takes us back to the 1990s. He was a computer geek and an internet hacker in the age of dial-up modems. Oliver and his hacking crew members weren’t hacking in the sense that people do today. They weren’t selling information to the mob or making online purchases. They were simply spreading their “cracked” games.
The hacking and computer scene has always been an interesting one to me, even though I couldn’t tell you the first real thing about it. From movies like Weird Science to The Net, Office Space to Antitrust, it is a topic I have always found interesting. So, Oliver Markus Malloy didn’t have to pull me in. However, he did do a great job of making the world of hacking sound interesting and even dangerous at times – the German FBI even raided his parents’ house on two separate occasions.
It was through the world of hacking that Oliver met Donna, and it was Donna who eventually led Oliver to New York. She was one of the only women in the hacking scene, and they literally spent hours on the phone with each other. In fact, the two were constantly connected (via land line, no less) until Oliver lost his phone privileges, at which point he began spending hours inside of a phone booth to stay connected.
With Donna in the picture now, Oliver began losing interest in the illegal hacking business, but continued to run his software company. With the money earned from video games produced through his software company, Oliver was able to fly to New York when he had the chance to spend more time with Donna.
So as not to give away any more of Oliver’s story, I will just say that it was one whirlwind adventure after another for him. Oliver was not only an entertaining character, he was downright likable. I did not always agree with him, the things he did, or what he did or did not believe in, but I found that I still wanted to learn more about him. I wanted to see where his life was headed, to see where he ended up. Sometimes he would make the same kinds of mistakes over and over, but I couldn’t even fault him that. I either chalked it up to his abusive biological father and the psychological outcome of that situation, or to the genuine love and care he seemed to feel towards some of the people in his life. Love can make us do some otherwise inexplicable things.
Regardless of the reason, I was enthralled. The reading was easy. I enjoyed the author’s writing style, and the quotes at the beginning of each chapter were a nice addition. I even learned a little on my journey. Aside from the ins and outs of the hacking business, and how that can be beneficial in various parts of your life, I also learned how easy divorce can be by signing paperwork from lawyers in Guam and enjoying a week-long vacation there – too bad I didn’t know about that when my husband was going through his divorce when we first met. It would have given us reason to visit my birthplace. - All kidding aside, though, I can honestly say that I think this book deserves 4 out of 4 stars, and I look forward to reading more from this author.
This book is not for everyone, though. If you are sensitive to triggers, or have the tendency to be offended by harsh language or actions that can be considered as unsavory or even immoral, then this is not the book for you. If you enjoy dark humor, and can handle reading about sex and drugs and the lifestyle that often accompanies those things, then you may find enjoyment in exploring the parts of Oliver’s life that he is willing to share with us through this novel. It was an interesting journey, to say the least, and I recommend Bad Choices to anyone who feels up to reading it.
Bad Choices Make Good Stories
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