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  • Writer's pictureBernard Jan

The Term Sheet

"The large American elms and Norway maples filled out the autumn landscape with yellow, orange, and red. The ginkgo biloba gave off a spectacular yellow show. Paperbark maples stood like bright red fire engines with dark red splintering bark. The bending birches glowed neon yellow on stark white. The smoke bushes could be found as shrubs or small trees. As they faded through fall, long stalks with fuzzy pink and brown hairs popped out, creating the illusion of a purple smoke."

David Alexander didn't forget to notice the beauty of the urban forest of inner southeast Portland as he set out on a walk to clear his mind burdened with many worries – we soon find out while walking with him through The Term Sheet: A Startup Thriller Novel by Lucas Carlson.

David is a young man in his early twenties who wants an easy way out of life of ordinary people. He doesn't want a regular job and the faith of mediocrity, pressured by his unquestionable talent for programming and desire to follow his dreams. Geek by nature, at times he seems to be out of touch with this world, but in truth he never stops thinking big, even when people he loves most characterize him as just a dreamer. Dreamer he may be, but what is wrong with dreaming as long as we dare to strive towards our goals, big or small, ready to pay the price of success or failure, ridicule or admiration, abandonment, alienation?

David was paying the price, a big one, because huge things were at stake on his way to seizing his entrepreneurship dream. It was not only the question of alleviating himself out of poverty into the world of financially stabilized and millions-dollars-successful young entrepreneur, the morality of national security versus human rights, or the right of individual for his privacy, to be more precise, was at stake as well.

Hitting and holding on a startup idea of encrypted chat and email have cost David dearly. The love of his girlfriend, friendship and companionship with his best friend and partner, an easily given promise to take care of his sick sister, everything was submitted to making one of the most secure options out there for which the big shots of a corporate world fought not choosing ways and means to get David, his company and a desired product.

Unlike some books of the same or similar genre, this likeable technothriller is deprived of tough and strong muscular superheroes who are bombing, exploding, shooting and car-crashing their way out of impossible situations. It is like a slow, pleasant dance with everyday people who could be our next-door neighbors (or even us!) dancing gracefully their way out of their problems. The Term Sheet: A Startup Thriller Novel has its moments of well-balanced and timely action, which only adds to its realism and the severity of fate of its characters.

David, Andrew and other characters in this Lucas Carlson's first novel are believable characters, their situations and actions are believable, and The Term Sheet: A Startup Thriller Novel is a believable novel. The loss of our privacy is also believable and the fact that we are nothing but modern slaves controlled and manipulated both by governments and big corporations alike gives a huge slap on the back of justifiability of Carlson's novel. Many debates will be going on about who is more important – a nation or its individuals. Some might say they both are. But not at the cost of the other!

Living encrypted life is not too much appealing, nothing more than looking back over your shoulder in constant fear from an unknown pursuer, or putting your faith, as David did, "in a man who had nearly kidnapped him and a guy who had already abandoned him once."

Kudos to the writing and publishing of The Term Sheet: A Startup Thriller Novel, with another quoted paragraph which will wrap up this review. Although both paragraphs, at the beginning and at the end of the review, are completely irrelevant in the scheme of terrorist and capital plots, government espionage, advanced technology, broken relationships and unavoidable casualties, they are a hint, an idea or maybe a promise where Carlson's literary talent might take us in his new books.

"The early spring felt like summer. David knew the showers would return soon, but he loved the rare respite where people could leave their jackets and sweaters behind and throw caution to the wind. Even the plants and trees forgot what came next. The cherry blossoms burst with white snow and the daphnes bloomed in fragrant bushes. It seemed as if only the wise rose knew better."

Compliments to the book cover, which gives the whole story an expressive visual identity.


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