These 10 must-read cyber thrillers feature social networks, virtual worlds, AI technology, computer games, hackers, cyber security, and everything else that we may potentially deal with now and in the future digital age. These technothrillers with an emphasis on all things cyber will keep you away from your computer, smart phone, or VR headset—at least for a few hours.
1. Bandwidth Eliot Peper
“A rising star at a preeminent political lobbying firm, Dag Calhoun represents the world’s most powerful technology and energy executives. But when a close brush with death reveals that the influence he wields makes him a target, impossible cracks appear in his perfect, richly appointed life.
“Like everyone else, Dag relies on his digital feed for everything―a feed that is as personal as it is pervasive, and may not be as private as it seems. As he struggles to make sense of the dark forces closing in on him, he discovers that activists are hijacking the feed to manipulate markets and governments. Going public would destroy everything he’s worked so hard to build, but it’s not just Dag’s life on the line―a shadow war is coming, one that will secure humanity’s future or doom the planet to climate catastrophe. Ultimately, Dag must decide the price he’s willing to pay to change the world.”
2. Darknet Matthew Mather
“From the million-copy bestselling author of CyberStorm comes a frighteningly realistic new thriller, an adrenaline-fueled mystery with a noir/tech edge that takes readers to a new edge of the cyber world.”
3. Startup by Riko Radojcic
“Professor Andrija Krstic is a bright man pursuing leading edge research in semiconductor technology. But when an opportunity for financing an Artificial Intelligence high tech startup presents itself, he embraces the opportunity even though the seed money is offered by an odd and somewhat suspicious Armenian oligarch. Krstic finds himself trying to balance two disparate worlds―that of a high tech Silicon Valley startup racing toward the 21st century’s technological future, and that of shady wealth rooted in the collapse of the Soviet empire. The professor knows he must do the right thing while fending off the pressure from the Armenian oligarch who has probably told him too much.”
4. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
“When the National Security Agency’s invincible code-breaking machine encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant, beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power. The NSA is being held hostage…not by guns or bombs but by a code so complex that if released would cripple U.S. intelligence.
“Caught in an accelerating tempest of secrecy and lies, Fletcher battles to save the agency she believes in. Betrayed on all sides, she finds herself fighting not only for her country but for her life. It is a battle for survival―a crucial bid to destroy a creation of inconceivable genius that threatens to obliterate the balance of world power…for all time.”
5. Neuromancer by William Gibson
“Case was the sharpest data-thief in the matrix—until he crossed the wrong people and they crippled his nervous system, banishing him from cyberspace. Now a mysterious new employer has recruited him for a last-chance run at an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, a mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case is ready for the adventure that upped the ante on an entire genre of fiction.”
6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
“In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the OASIS, a vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days. When the eccentric creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of fiendish puzzles, based on his obsession with the pop culture of decades past. Whoever is first to solve them will inherit his vast fortune—and control of the OASIS itself. Then Wade cracks the first clue. Suddenly he’s beset by rivals who’ll kill to take this prize. The race is on—and the only way to survive is to win.”
7. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz; George Goulding (Translator)
“A genius hacker who has always been an outsider. A journalist with a penchant for danger. She is Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. He is Mikael Blomkvist, crusading editor of Millennium. One night, Blomkvist receives a call from a source who claims to have been given information vital to the United States by a young female hacker. Blomkvist, always on the lookout for a story, reaches out to Salander for help. She, as usual, has plans of her own. Together they are drawn into a ruthless underworld of spies, cybercriminals, and government operatives—some willing to kill to protect their secrets.”
8. The Circle by Dave Eggers
“When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.
“As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.
“Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.
“What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.”
9. The Every by Dave Eggers
“Delaney Wells is an unlikely new hire at the Every. A former forest ranger and unwavering tech skeptic, she charms her way into an entry-level job with one goal in mind: to take down the company from within. With her compatriot, the not-at-all-ambitious Wes Makazian, they look for the Every’s weaknesses, hoping to free humanity from all-encompassing surveillance and the emoji-driven infantilization of the species. But does anyone want what Delaney is fighting to save? Does humanity truly want to be free?
“Studded with unforgettable characters, outrageous outfits, and lacerating set-pieces, this companion to The Circle blends absurdity and terror, satire and suspense, while keeping the reader in apprehensive excitement about the fate of the company—and the human animal.”
10. Summer Frost by Blake Crouch
“Maxine was made to do one thing: die. Except the minor non-player character in the world Riley is building makes her own impossible decision—veering wildly off course and exploring the boundaries of the map. When the curious Riley extracts her code for closer examination, an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon Riley has all new plans for her spontaneous AI, including bringing Max into the real world. But what if Max has real-world plans of her own?”
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