The Delusion

Fiction - Thriller - Psychological
426 Pages
Reviewed on 01/03/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

The Delusion by T.O. Paine is a fascinating insight into the power of suggestion and persuasion, especially using the internet and social media to control people and create situations. Emma is a psychologist scientist at the University of Baltimore researching the power of mass persuasion. She has sacrificed everything in her life -- relationships, social activities, spare time, and even her own mother’s desire for grandchildren -- to achieve the pinnacle of her academic career. But tonight it will be all worth it; tonight Emma and her team are certain to win the prestigious Tiberian Research Award in Psychology. This award will finally see Emma recognized and celebrated by her peers, it will create opportunities for further grant funding and academic advancement. She is convinced that winning this award will finally allow her the time to focus on her life, meet the man of her dreams, have children, and attain a satisfactory work/life balance, something she has assiduously denied herself for years. Although the night doesn’t quite go as planned, from Emma’s perspective, a much greater problem will soon tax her mind and her ingenuity. Her team leader at the University of Baltimore has gone missing and their research on mass persuasion techniques is being used by nefarious actors, through social media, to generate mass disorder and chaos. This is gaslighting on a truly global scale with potentially horrifying results. Emma must find her professor and somehow thwart those determined to control the minds of internet users the world over.

The Delusion is a terrifyingly believable scenario that some may suggest is already taking place through social media, albeit on a more limited scale than in this story. Author T.O. Paine presents a chillingly realistic narrative that all readers will be able to identify with. In today’s social media world, it is not hard to identify organizations that are using the power of the internet to achieve philosophical or commercial ends. This plot is just one step beyond what is already taking place in the world of advertising and political rhetoric. The characters are overdrawn but this necessarily adds the intensity and bite that the story requires, given its futuristic themes. Readers will empathize and identify with Emma. The work and effort, everything she had given up to achieve the team’s goals, was unappreciated and yet expected of her. The comparison with her colleague, the smooth-talking, suave Wilson doing the bare minimum to survive and yet always first in line when recognition or praise was to be had, highlighted the problem that so many women face not only in academia but right throughout the workforce. The idea of a global mass delusion doesn’t seem at all far-fetched when examined against the signs of the past few years with the political rhetoric from both sides of the spectrum. Who hasn’t heard and reacted to the “fake news” terminology of the past decade? This is a fun, adventurous novel that also raises some frightening questions that we as a civilization probably need to answer before it is too late. I enjoyed this book and can highly recommend it.

K.C. Finn

The Delusion is a work of fiction penned by author T. O. Paine in the psychological thriller, suspense, and cyber drama subgenres. It is best suited to mature adult readers. Bold readers are invited to delve into the consequences of internet manipulation and mass persuasion. Emma, an ambitious researcher, discovers the dark implications of her work when her professor goes missing. The narrative navigates through Emma's past struggles, adding depth to her character as she grapples with personal losses and professional challenges. The exploration of gaslighting and mind control on a global scale is both intriguing and chilling, and the story raises pertinent questions about the fine line between information and manipulation in the digital age.

Author T. O. Paine has crafted a deeply engaging thriller that mirrors contemporary concerns about the Internet's influence on public perception, offering both an entertaining novel and a cautionary tale about modern life. As a reader, the experience of entering this story world was intense and packed with sudden shocks and an eerie atmosphere. The narrative's pacing keeps the suspense alive, creating an atmosphere of unease from cover to cover that lingers long after you set the book down. The relevance of the plot to real-world issues adds even more credence to Emma’s struggles, and I found her emotional journey very impactful and well-penned. The speech and thought presentation were dedicated and detailed to truly convey the issues that lead Emma into such deep trouble, and you feel for her as the action intensifies. Overall, The Delusion is a cautionary tale packed with suspense and thrills that I would not hesitate to recommend to fans of psychological thrillers everywhere.

Alma Boucher

The Delusion is an outstanding thriller by T.O. Paine. Emma endured Dr. Santan’s demands for years and spent years of research on the psychology behind digital mass persuasion on the internet. While Emma's friends moved on and began families, Emma continued to live on campus and do research. Dr. Santan accepted the Tiberian Research Award in Psychology without mentioning Emma’s name. Emma was furious and confronted Dr. Santan, only to hear the next day that he was missing. Emma discovers the value of their research when a second coworker is reported missing. Dr. Santan needs to be saved before someone uses Emma’s study to control people's thoughts on social media. Everyone who is on social media is at risk of manipulation on a global scale.

The plot in The Delusion is complicated and interesting. T.O. Paine created a world of betrayal, guilt, and regret. This story was fast-paced and jam-packed with action. The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat, turning the pages as fast as I could. I never knew what to expect. With all the twists and turns, it was impossible to predict what would happen next. The characters were authentic and relatable. Emma was my favorite; after everything Dr. Santan did to her, she still went out of her way to try to find him. The story was brilliantly written and had me hooked from the start until the end. It is an incredible thriller and well worth reading; it was much more than I expected.