Mini Review: A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel

Mini Review: A Deadly Wandering by Matt RichtelA Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention by Matt Richtel
Published by William Morrow on September 23, 2014
Pages: 403
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.
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From Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Matt Richtel, this is a brilliant, narrative-driven exploration of technology’s vast influence on the human mind and society, dramatically told through the lens of a tragic “texting-while-driving” car crash that claimed the lives of two rocket scientists in 2006.
In this ambitious, compelling, and beautifully written book, Richtel examines the impact of technology on our lives through the story of Utah college student Reggie Shaw, who killed two scientists while texting and driving. Richtel follows Reggie through the tragedy, the police investigation, his prosecution, and ultimately his redemption.
In the wake of his experience, Reggie has become a leading advocate against “distracted driving.” Richtel interweaves Reggie’s story with cutting-edge scientific findings regarding human attention and the impact of technology on our brains, proposing solid, practical, and actionable solutions to help manage this crisis individually and as a society.
A propulsive read filled with fascinating, accessible detail, riveting narrative tension, and emotional depth, A Deadly Wandering explores one of the biggest questions of our time--what is all of our technology doing to us?--and provides unsettling and important answers and information we all need.


Most of A Deadly Wandering read like a true crime book, which isn’t a genre I enjoy. I was expecting research-driven narrative non-fiction. There was so much dramatic filler. So much background information on figures that had more to do with Reggie’s prosecution than with “the impact of technology.” I started to resent feeling like I was wading through fluff to find pertinent points.

However, I found the science fascinating and appreciated the author’s multifaceted approach: the way technology affects our brain, how and why it can be so addictive, our attention span and our ability to multitask. Unfortunately, the science was the only thing compelling me to keep reading. I couldn’t get past the book’s “true crime” tone, which made me feel manipulated into a conclusion, instead of trusted to understand the science presented.