I only have a couple letters left in order to read a book starting with every letter in the alphabet this year, and I was looking for a book beginning with 'X'. I knew my choices would be pretty limited, but I typed the letter 'x' into the Denver Public library catalog to see what came up. And X (2009) by JD Glass was what I found. (I also repeated this search on Amazon with similar results). On the plus side, there was a wait list for this novel, which I took as a good sign. The descriptions: "Computer hackers Fiction; Lesbians Fiction; Biotechnology Fiction; Romantic suspense fiction," didn't seem too promising, though. But it was a short book (only 219 pages), so I figured it wouldn't kill me, and I'd never read a hacker, biotechnology, lesbian romance novel before.
And X certainly benefited from my low expectations. I finished it thinking, well that wasn't too bad, but now that I look back on it, there wasn't too much good in it either. Charli Riven (whose screen name is CharliX, or X) is a hotshot executive and hardcore surfer working at an investment company. I'm not sure if I'm remembering this correctly, but Charli wrote this fantastic piece of code that allows her company to transfer funds safely and securely between the Department of Treasury and her firm. Charli is in charge of making sure all that computer stuff works (you might have guessed by now that I am not exactly literate in all things computer). At the same time, Anna Pendleton (a/k/a Elaine something) is a CIA agent, posing as a Treasury Agent, who is posing as another computer hacker/worker at Charli's firm. Anna likes to surf, too, and she and Charli fall in love, but Anna is torn between her job and telling Charli the truth. To add to this tension, a rogue CIA agent, known as Romello, is using an insider to hack into Charli's firm to get funds to acquire some kind of (never explained) bioterrorist weapon. His initial intention is to lay the blame for the hacking at Charli's feet before he figures out that she might be useful.
The best part of this book was reading about Romello's reasons for turning rogue. Glass doesn't resort to calling him "crazy" and using him as a simple plot device, but intertwines paranoia, government conspiracies, and legitimate and real world problems to fuel her antagonist's dreams. For awhile I wasn't sure if we were in some parallel universe where Romello was actually in the right, or if he was, in fact, insane.
I didn't relate to too much in the rest of the book, however. As an admitted sucker for romance, the lesbian romance in this novel didn't do much for me. I'm sure part of that was how it was written. Glass continuously went into great detail about the lovers' emotional connection on some higher plane. They rarely had discussions about anything, but felt what was going on between them and that's how they got closer. "The dynamic between them was slipping, changing, and Anna knew that this was another test, a more important one than any of the others. Charlie wanted to tell her something important, something that carried enough weight for her that she was certain it would determine anything futher between them. If Anna let the moment go, it would be forever lost." I also never appreciate throwing in some kind of rape threat or painful memory of a rape to further a showing of protectiveness in a relationship, which Glass did here and I found annoying.
I'm not sure if Glass deliberately avoided tying up all the loose ends and finishing her story to make it somehow more meaningful, or if she was setting herself up for a sequel. I would guess that there's a sequel coming, but I was surprised there was no kind of mention or teaser at the end of the book, so I'm not sure. With no real closure, I almost feel like I only read half a book; but with no real interest, I also don't feel like I need closure that badly.