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Bubble by Anders de la Motte

Bubble by Anders de la Motte - cover

A review by Nalini Haynes

Game established a nefarious Game Master was at work using approval-seeking players whose self-absorption outweighed their empathy, moral and legal codes, of whom HP is one. HP went on the run but returned to Sweden in Buzz, becoming an internet troll then taking down the company that employed him. Bubble concludes the trilogy, focusing on abstract bubbles: a safe-deposit box is a time bubble, events taken in isolation can be bubbles whose reality bursts…

A year on from Buzz, Rebecca is on leave from the police force, working in her boyfriend’s company. Continuing her downhill slide, she’s on anti-depressants and sleeping tablets, her hands shake and she doubts herself more than ever.

HP is arrested. Again. He doesn’t know whether this is for real or if it’s another machination of the Game.

Rebecca arrives at the police station and is allowed to watch HP’s interrogation through a one-way mirror then isn’t allowed to contact HP until the investigation is over. (Roly?) Rebecca abuses her access and uses her friends to get herself caught on camera breaking countless rules and regulations stealing HP’s keys from an evidence box locked in the police station. (REALLY?)

HP goes off the reservation in the non-literal, tin-foil hat way. He buys duct tape to tape over every power point, connection point and crack in the wall. At times he’s surprisingly paranoid while at other times he’s surprisingly oblivious.

As HP slowly falls apart, he starts to piece together the conspiracy that is the Game.

Pop culture references have been sprinkled throughout the trilogy but Buzz and especially Bubble reward readers with relatable references. Unfortunately the ‘red pill or blue pill’ were replaced by ‘red or black’ somewhere along the way (part way through Buzz I think), creating a disconnect in the narrative. A few other minor references jarred a little, revealing that – although the author is a geek – the translator does not relate.

A high-octane twisty plot races up to the final few pages. I felt the conclusion cheated like Leverage and Hustle cheat in later seasons, intentionally deceiving rather than using misdirection to divert expectations, but it’s possible I’m just bitter over being taken by surprise.  There were also elements of The Unknown Terrorist, especially in HP’s arc.

Four stars.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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