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Blackquest 40

By: Jeff Bond
Narrated by: Natalie Duke
Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

Big Tech meets Die Hard in this techno-thriller Kirkus Reviews calls "a clever, spirited tale with a brainy, nimble heroine at the helm".

From IndieReader's 5 star (highest rating) review: "Bond weaves an entertaining story filled with deceit, robots, Russians, and tech entrepreneurs that all combine to give the reader a reason to flip pages furiously to find out what might happen next."

Deb Bollinger has no time for corporate training.

Her company’s top engineer at just 27, Deb has blocked off her day for the one project she truly cares about: the launch of Carebnb, an app that finds spare beds for the homeless. When she’s told all employees must drop everything for some busywork exercise called Blackquest 40, it’s an easy no.

Trouble is, her bosses aren’t really asking.

Blackquest 40 is the mother of all corporate trainings. A near-impossible project to be completed in 40 straight hours. No phones. No internet. Sleeping on cots. Nobody in, nobody out. Deb finds the whole setup creepy and authoritarian. When a Carebnb issue necessitates her leaving the office, she heads for the door.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Armed commandos, HVAC-duct chases, a catastrophic master plan that gets darker by the hour - Blackquest 40 is a fresh take on the Die Hard formula, layering smart-drones and a modern heroine onto the classic action tale.  

©2019 Jeff Bond (P)2019 Jeff Bond

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story well worth a listen

This was an exciting story with lots of interest me ideas. I felt quite a bit of crossover with other stories..... but they were good stories too
it is read in the first person which can take a little getting used to but all in all it was very enjoyable and could be pursueded to a second in the series, if there is one.
the narrator was excellent, a joy to listen to, she had obviously done her homework.

This audiobook was given by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.

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  • eire
  • N.E.
  • 19-06-19

Warm fuzzy childhood memories of late night movies

Without wanting to go too deep into spoiler territory I grew up watching Die Hard, and re-runs of James Bond - often. I've seen several comments referencing Die Hard and I can understand why as there is a core parallel in the story. Don't be misled though this isn't a clone. Being used to stories from a past generation I had a little bit of a culture shock with the casual use of 'modern' technology and references in a story such as this - and I loved every minute. This isn't missile launching cars and oil slicks from your arse, this gives the feeling of homebrew hacking from stuff every one of us can buy online. Not quite the unlikely tech of Iron Man, but a real feeling of 'hey, I might just be able to do that too' if you're slightly technologically inclined – this helped me connect with the story and made me want to see how the main character reacted compared with my own thoughts. The best part is this tech isn't presented as a particularly massive feature, and feels almost incidental to the story but it's this natural and comfortable inclusion of something that was so relatable to me that struck me, especially compared to the big feature showings of now-tropey tech in things like James Bond.

Going back to the story, it was very enjoyable. As a total outsider to Silicon Valley I cannot comment on the story's accuracy to its perceived setting, but as a 9-5 joe with a strong interest in tech, I can say it's exactly the sort of environment I envision and it feels natural and the culture seems realistic to me, which is praise in itself.

This might sound oversimplified but I'd say if you're looking for a modern telling of a good guy/bad guy close quarters action heist (for lack of knowledge of a better word), that harkens back to childhood late night movies, you can't go wrong here. Good fun and enjoyable.

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  • Cyphers Fallen
  • 17-07-19

A Hacker Thriller

I was pulled into this story and it was a fun ride the whole time. I kept thinking on how everyone was going to make it out alive and what was really going on. The narrator was and excellent choice for this book and an added plus.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda
  • 10-07-19

Excellent techno thriller

Deb is a wiz when it comes to tech. As an ex employee of Google she works as the number one engineer at a tech company. We all love group building training, trust falls and the like and Deb decides when she is ordered to attend such a training that her answer is a vehement no. She has her own side project she is working on and today is the big day for the app launch. Unbeknownst to her the "training" of Blackquest 40 is not an option. As strange requests are made, lockdowns are implemented, and data blockades commence, Deb knows there is more going on than a simple corporate training. Really great read. Kept me guessing until the end. I am not a techie by any means but I found it kept my attention enough. Great narration and definitely great characters. I look forward to more by this author. I received a free review copy of this book at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian L. Parker
  • 02-07-19

Great book, by a new (to me) author

I was intrigued by the blurb, so I gave this book a shot and I was not disappointed. Blackquest 40 is about a corporate training event that goes terribly wrong. Not gonna get into storyline details, though. You have to buy the book yourself to find out what happens!

The good: Jeff Bond’s world-building was spot on, immersing me in the storyline immediately. Natalie Duke’s performance was stellar and I feel like she captured Deb’s snarkiness, Paul’s shyness, and Susan’s haute attitude perfectly.

The only thing that bothered me about the story was Deb’s continual meddling (and her involvement with those 3 things, you know, the ones that would get her arrested at the very least), then the Elite staff allowing her to return with little to no repercussions. Just didn’t seem plausible.

However, overall, I heartily recommend this book!

I was given the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-06-19

A totally amazing story

This story way surpassed my expectation. I loved this book and could not stop listening. Quite intriguing.

Natalie Duke perfectly captures the tenacity and attitude of Deb! She was the perfect choice for narrator.

Listen to this story!

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Christine Newton
  • 25-08-19

suspend disbelief and enjoy the suspense

This was an enjoyable story that kept me interested and engaged throughout. Interesting and well-described characters, clock-ticking tension, and uncertainty over the identity of good guys and bad guys. There's a lot of IT context - I wasn't able to grasp all of the technical details but understood enough to roll with the story. The thing that was more distracting for me was the behaviour/attitudes of the heroine's co-workers. I won't mention spoilers here, but the old Milgram experiments kept popping into my mind and I wondered about the plausibility of the employees' general actions and reactions. When I wasn't distracted with reflections on human nature and the power of organizational culture, the tension of the storyline was very compelling. I'd definitely read this author in the future.

The narrator was a good choice; she fit the mental picture that I had for the heroine (although for personal preference I increased the playback speed slightly to match the pace of the tension).

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • Brian
  • 06-07-19

An Interesting Technothriller

Blackquest 40 has that perfect technothriller vibe that I love. It takes things that you’re used to in your world today and turns them against you. In the case with this book – it was a company (similar to Google) is taking part in a training exercise – but it’s not your ordinary team building experience.

Bond did a really nice job creating a character that was likable and, from the start, we understood that she was a bit of a rebel. This comes into play nicely later in the story – but it was set up without feeling too “set-up-like” if that makes any sense.

Right away Bond dives into the story – within a few chapters we’ve already met most of the main players in the story – and we’re thrown into the thrilling parts of the story within a few minutes. I wasn’t sure just how far the story or the characters would go but I knew I wanted to find out what happened.

Overall, I thought that Blackquest 40 was a unique and interesting take in a genre that I love. Bond was able to create a memorable experience without it feeling overdone or done before.

One of the complaints that I had while reading was that he continued to use the word “repository”. I work as a product manager for a tech company – I understand code to some extent and what a repository is. What I don’t ever hear is the full word repository. Everyone I’ve ever worked with has called it a “repo”. I think that Bond could have used the full word once and then switched over. I guess technically someone could argue that the group of “trainers” might not know that, but from other scenes (trying not to spoil anything) they’ve worked with tech companies before. It’s small and probably wouldn’t bother the average person – but it was in the book enough times that it got to me personally.

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  • Suzanne S
  • 22-06-19

Delightfully Flawed Heroine with Enjoyable Sarcasm

I really liked the main character in this story (Deb). She was a perfect dysfunctional genius. Her sarcasm worked well against the problems she faced.

I love the way Deb expressed herself in the first person narrative. For example, “it’s not like I need to rewrite iTunes, which, by the way, someone needs to do.“

I thought the “action” started a bit too early in story; before I knew enough about Deb. But the plot was good and after the initial confusion caused by the early action, things settled in.

The plot was suspenseful and the action well paced. I wish the author had found a way to make the technical aspects a little more understandable to those of use who don’t know “coding” jargon. Even though I am quite tech savvy, I know little about coding and most of the tech lingo went right over my head.

Overall though I enjoyed the book and it is definitely worth a listen simply for the enjoyment of meeting this delightfully flawed character.

The reader had the perfect voice for Deb's personality. This is the first book I’ve listened to read by Natalie Duke, and I would definitely choose another one.

I requested and received a complementary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Sadyztik
  • 20-06-19

Really good

This is a great mystery/suspense book. It has some good twists and turns in it. It kept me guessing for quite a while. Hope to read more by Mr. Bond in the future.

At my request, I received this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Wanpakumono
  • 19-06-19

One of the best I've read in some time

The first thing I am going to say is that this book makes me reconsider pressing "Accept" or Signing any contract without reading the fine print.
Imagine your company providing you and your colleagues with training only to find out that when you digitally signed to accept, you agreed that for 40 hours you will be sequestered in your office, relinquishing your cell phone and that even your pay will be affected by how well you pass the training. This is the setting for this book.
I was given the opportunity to request this book from the author in exchange for reviewing it. To my delight, seeing that I am a software engineer, this is the type of company that is having this "training."
The main character is one you can sympathize with, although she is much more brilliant than I.
The narration is really good too. it added to the enjoyment of this audiobook.
I should add that, although this involves a technical company and character, the author does not get caught up in nitty gritty technical details but, at the same time, provides enough to keep me(a technical person) entertained.

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  • cosmitron
  • 14-06-19

Good entertainmant

This Audio book has a well crafted story with an interesting variety of characters that will keep most listeners who enjoy this genre entertained.

The Narrator delivers a wonderful performance and enhances the story for anyone who listens to the entire book.




This Book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.