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 up in places and in other places sounded like gibberish. It felt strange having people typing on a computer be high action and also Falkner at times made it seem like the characters were inside the computer which is jarring.
I personally was irritated when New York's Avenue of the Americas was mentioned in the story, by a native New Yorker, when everyone who has been living here would only call it Sixth Avenue. Other elements also just felt out of place to me, like story threads that didn't feel vital to the plot. (Examples: Vegas, Fargas, Vienna, Dodge's dodgy tattoo ON HIS FOREHEAD.) Many of the characters also fell flat.
The prologue was poorly done and off putting. I got my copy from a friend who I'm sure also didn't buy it. It was so strange having the prologue talk in depth about getting information from people who bought the book when I didn't (and I'm sure a lot of people didn't). Aside from completely disregarding libraries and borrowing books it brought me right out of the narrative since it was so not true for my experience. In tandem with the prologue I felt like the epilogue was too preachy and weirdly so. Neuro headsets don't actually exist and the book is fiction, but then he is telling us he'll be watching (much like Santa Claus)?
It just didn't work for me.
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Reader, writer, blogger. I have a master's in library science and information systems and am currently searching for a librarian position. You can … more
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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.