Gr 7 Up–Seventeen-year-old Sam single-handedly hacks into a large telecommunication company (thought to be impenetrable) and inadvertently takes out the world's infrastructure in his attempt to cover his tracks. He is recruited by a secret government department staffed by former hackers to protect the Internet and is taken to San Jose, CA. They find a malicious presence on the web that could destroy the world and must work as a group to preserve life as we know it. The story takes place in the near future, and the technology has some interesting new enhancements, most notably neuro helmets that allow one to control a computer with one's mind. On occasion the author provides too much detail about San Jose. Occasional use of non-American slang by American characters also detracts from the dialogue: “mates” is used instead of “friends,” food is described as being “tinned” rather than “canned.” Still, the nicely paced plot and well-crafted story arc make this a title worth recommending, particularly to boys who like technology or science fiction. This book will also have broad appeal since, despite the age of the main character, the content is appropriate for younger readers.–Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Brain Jack by Brian Falkner (2009) This book was shortlisted for the 2010 Cybils which is why (as a round 2 judge) I read it. I can see how Brain Jack would have some appeal and could be great for teens who are into computers or are reluctant readers. That said, I personally wasn't very impressed with the book. I thought it was too technical. I know nothing about computers but a lot of the stuff sounded downright made … more