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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Cover of This Thriller Would Offend The Protagonist

I decided to purchase Unassimilated by Michael Ben Zehabe from Amazon and agreed to review it for Bookplex because I was interested in the description, but I shook my head over the cover.  This is the first review that I am posting to this blog without a cover because the cover doesn't reflect the content of the book.

Imagine a central character who is a Middle Eastern refugee dealing with PTSD and culture shock.  Then think about how she’ll deal with being thrown into an undercover assignment for the FBI.  Will she sink or will she swim?  I certainly found this scenario intriguing. 

Protagonist Zoe Mousa is a wonderful character. Yet many readers will never find out about her because the cover of this book is so misleading. Perhaps the author thought it might increase sales.  Ben Zehabe may not realize that his cover amounts to deceptive advertising.   It is an appropriate cover for erotica, but there are no sex scenes in this thriller.  Not only this, but it’s a poor representation of the central character’s values.  Zoe prefers to dress modestly in accordance with her upbringing.   Another marketing problem posed by this cover, is that no one will want a post about this book to be going out to their friends’ feeds on social media. I can't even add the book to a shelf on Goodreads without the cover going out on my feed. It could cause problems for my Goodreads friends at work, or in their homes if they contain children.  This is why I won't be reviewing this book on Goodreads.

I wish that Unassimilated had a cover that better represented its content because this novel deals with some important themes.  In addition to the challenges facing immigrants, there is also the issue of technology’s increasing role.  The TV show Mr. Robot has brought the power of hackers to cause disruption to the fore.   The hacking element in Unassimilated caused me to reflect even more on how vulnerable our technology makes us.

Although I found only one typographical error, I need to point out an inconsistency in this novel.   Ben Zehabe doesn’t seem to be aware that the United States has an agency that deals with overseas espionage called the CIA. The FBI is limited to domestic operations.  This is the second time that I’ve seen this error in a thriller.

Zoe makes some serious mistakes in judgement, but I felt that they are very much in character considering her background.    My affection for Zoe deepened over the course of the narrative as I learned her entire story.    I recommend this book to anyone who likes character complexity with their thrill rides. 


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