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The Exphoria Code: A Novel by [Antony Johnston]

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The Exphoria Code: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 91 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“In The Exphoria Code, Antony Johnston delivers a crackling fuse-wire of a book with a plot torn from next year’s headlines and an understanding of contemporary spy-craft that will make your head spin. This is very possibly the definitive espionage thriller of the early 21st century.” (Alan Moore )

“Antony Johnston is a talent to look out for and this, his latest entry into the world of espionage, is a treat.” (Anthony Horowitz )

“Johnston does for hackers what le Carré did for short, fat office managers—turn them into spies you can root for.” (Spywrite)

“A really great, page-turning read.” (BBC Radio Ulster)

"Sharp turns out to be quite resourceful, physically and mentally, and thrilling action scenes keep the pages turning..." (Publishers Weekly)

"A fast-paced and cleverly constructed story that uses many of the familiar spy-novel tropes but does so in exciting new ways. Johnston makes good use of jargon and technical terminology to give the story an air of realism, although the story pushes itself right to the edge of plausibility, cleverly adding to the suspense. A rousing success." (Booklist)

"Readers will thrill to the chase in this kickoff to a techno-thriller series that has at its center a hacker with a heart of gold—and nerves of steel." (BookPage)

About the Author

Antony Johnston is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling graphic novelist, author, and games writer. He has written more than thirty graphic novels, comic series, and books, and his graphic spy thriller The Coldest City was made into the multi-million-dollar blockbuster Atomic Blonde, starring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy. He lives in England. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B085GL226Y
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Pegasus Crime (October 6, 2020)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 6, 2020
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 5644 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 415 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 178563061X
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 91 ratings

About the author

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Antony Johnston is a New York Times bestselling writer. The Charlize Theron movie ATOMIC BLONDE is based on his graphic novel; his BRIGITTE SHARP thrillers are critically acclaimed; and DEAD SPACE, his first videogame, redefined its genre. He recently returned to survival horror to write RESIDENT EVIL VILLAGE, the Game of the Year-winning eighth instalment in the blockbuster franchise.

His productivity guide THE ORGANISED WRITER has helped authors all over the world take control of their workload, and he interviews fellow writers on his podcast WRITING AND BREATHING.

Antony's work includes THE EXPHORIA CODE, THE TEMPUS PROJECT, DAREDEVIL, SHANG-CHI, SHADOW OF MORDOR, the ALEX RIDER graphic novels, and more. He wrote and directed the film CROSSOVER POINT, made entirely in quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.

Antony is joint vice chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, a member of the International Thriller Writers group, a Shore Scripts screenwriting judge, and sits on the videogames committee for the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. He lives and works in England.

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
91 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on January 3, 2018
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4.0 out of 5 stars Johnston turns hackers into superspies.
By Jeff Quest on January 3, 2018
Antony Johnston is best known for his varied work in the comics field. Over the course of his career he’s taken on just about every genre imaginable. With the recent successful adaptation of his and artist Sam Hart's graphic novel The Coldest City (as the movie Atomic Blonde) he’s become known more as a spy writer. I previously reviewed his sequel to The Coldest City, The Coldest Winter, which I found even better than the first volume. He further cements those espionage credentials with the release of his first prose spy novel, The Exphoria Code.

There’s a reason that writers like to stick with the Cold War. The real world is changing so quickly it’s always possible that your cutting edge storyline with be yesterday’s news by the time it hits the shelves or worse, look horribly dated. Achieving the goal of making a modern story that’s also a bit timeless can be tough but I think Johnston pulls it off.

We are introduced to Brigette Sharp, hacker extraordinaire and MI6 desk jockey whose first attempt at being a field operative went pear shaped.The story begins as she’s picking up the pieces and deciding whether she’s going to try and get back in the field, continue to ride a desk or quit SIS altogether. Of course she gets dragged back into an operation, otherwise we wouldn’t have a story, but Johnston isn’t afraid to have things go wrong for his lead and let her make mistakes. Too often fictional spies never error and are perfect performing automatons. Sharp screws things up, jumps to wrong conclusions and runs from trouble. It makes her a real human and less of a one-note action hero.
The plot involves a mole hunt because it’s not a spy story unless there’s a mole rattling around somewhere. Johnston finds a good mix of real world spying and deduction with a bit of Bondian action to raise the stakes. He’s also not afraid of throwing out jargon and terms that might not be familiar but trusts you can keep up. The ending which has various characters we’ve met converging to stop a terror threat is truly exciting. 

If looking at criticisms, I would have liked to see Johnston provide a bit more sense of place. The action moved and he created interesting characters but the spaces they inhabited lacked pop. If we’re in the desert, I want to feel the heat and in a office space I want to hear that air vent that keeps rattling and is making me go crazy. 
I would also caution Johnston against letting the reader get too far ahead of the main character. It’s one thing when the writer tips the reader off in advance, ala Columbo, to important information your hero doesn’t have. However when the reader has the same information as the character and can easily put the pieces together there’s a danger of making your lead character seem like a dim bulb. As it has been said - “It’s such a fine line between clever and stupid.”  

Finally there’s a trip Sharp takes late in the story that feels like too large a logical leap. I understand why he did it but I think the same realization could have been achieved in a different, more believable way.
Criticisms aside, Johnston has created a three dimensional spy that I’m eager to see again. We also met some interesting secondary characters that are worthy of further exploration that he could expand on to build his spy ensemble. In the real world, most spies are working as a team and I appreciate books that try to show that. The book sets up things nicely to continue with a sequel and, based on the way things are left, I think the next one could even top his first in the series. 

TL;DR - Johnston does for hackers what le Carré did for short, fat office managers - turn them into spies you can root for.

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Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on July 31, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on December 23, 2017
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Top reviews from other countries

Colin Murtagh
4.0 out of 5 stars and I'm rather glad I picked this one up
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 15, 2018
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2 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not all spies are James Bond
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 4, 2018
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Amazonian Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent high-tech thriller
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 28, 2018
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Michael Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Spies in the wires...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 31, 2017
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Douglas B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 1, 2018
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