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I’m So Hacked – by Gautam Mayekar

Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd
Pages: 199
Price: Rs. 49 INR(Kindle Edition)
ISBN: 978–9352011476
Buy here: https://amzn.to/39XPlOo

@v! is a hacker who spends his days working in India’s number one anti-virus company as a security researcher and his nights, crawling through underground hacking forums.

He is completely unmotivated and lacks purpose until he receives a letter from M@dR1; a mysterious revolutionary who wants to create a “change” in the world. M@dR1 uses @v!’s horrific past to motivate him, and guides him through various tasks, starting with shutting down the internet services of the entire city.

A series of mayhem, manipulation and mystery ensues as @v! begins hallucinating various events and people from his former life, before he became a reclusive hacker. He is thrown into a barrage of uncertainty and confusion as his perception of reality begins to shift out of focus.

Meanwhile, M@dR1 and @v! prepare for a major cyber-attack that will rock the foundation of the country’s technological unit, with the help of @v!’s friends, $@m and K!LL3R. Will they accomplish their goals? Or will @v!’s increasing delusion lead to their downfall?

About the author:

Gautam Mayekar is a certified ethical hacker who works for the American IT company TIBCO Software Inc. as a member of the Technical Staff (Product Security). He has previously worked for Quick Heal Technologies Ltd, a security solutions provider and an American software company called Qualys, Inc. which provides cloud security.

Born and brought up in Goa, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Engineering from PCCE, South Goa. He hails from a family of teachers, writers and librarians, and grew up reading books of every genre. His interest in hacking came much later, after witnessing an Orkut community of the Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam being hacked by hackers from a neighbouring country.

It was during his time with Quick Heal that he came across an unknown hacker, who later became the inspiration for !m S0 H@cK3D. When he isn’t writing or hacking, he enjoys playing and watching football games, and going to the gym.

He has won various prizes in online writing prompts, most recently in a contest held by Half Baked Beans.

!m S0 H@cK3D is his debut novel.

My take on the book:

Avi a hacker employed with the top Anti-virus company of India is an introvert and fighting his own demons of the past. Other than his day work, Avi tries to satisfy his creative thoughts by working by monitoring hacking activities online. As he struggles to differentiate his hallucinations from reality, he keeps getting orders from an anonymous person who motivates his to bring the online world down. Will Avi be successful in this mission or will he fall prey to his own delusions forms the rest of the story.

Hacking is one of those dangerous and criminal acts committed online which has the potential to cause extreme losses of money and services. The author firstly deserves appreciation for choosing a niche topic for his debut book and since he is an ethical hacker himself, the story and minute details are authentic to the core. The story touches on various issues like hacking, emotional manipulation, online safety, trauma and its after-effects.

Though the story starts a bit slow as the protagonist reminisces his past, once M@dR1 enters the story, narration picks pace. There are couple of technical terms used by the author and though they have been explained well, it will help with the reader has some prior knowledge of the Internet and its jargon. The cover and title along with the blurb create good interest in the reader and force them to pick it up. However, unlike a lot of books which throw a fancy blurb which may mislead the reader, this book stays true to its blurb.

The story requires the complete attention of the reader so as not to miss any details as the climax is quite unpredictable. The suspense as Avi transitions between his real and delusional side is well written, without causing confusion to the reader. If you are looking to pick a story with a new backdrop and theme, then this is the one.

My rating: