09. Brain Jack by Brian Falkner
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (September 28, 2010), ebook, 368pp / ISBN 978-0-375-89323-0
Genre: YA Fiction, Techno-Thriller
Rating: Borrow it!
Read: January 17-18, 2011
Summary from Amazon:
Las Vegas is gone—destroyed in a terrorist attack. Black Hawk helicopters patrol the skies over New York City. And immersive online gaming is the most dangerous street drug around. In this dystopic near-future, technology has leapt forward once again, and neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards. Just slip on a headset, and it’s the Internet at the speed of thought.
For teen hacker Sam Wilson, a headset is a must. But as he becomes familiar with the new technology, he has a terrifying realization. If anything on his computer is vulnerable to a hack, what happens when his mind is linked to the system? Could consciousness itself be hijacked? Before he realizes what’s happened, Sam’s incursion against the world’s largest telecommunications company leads him to the heart of the nation’s cyberdefense network and brings him face to face with a terrifying and unforeseen threat.
Oh, Brain Jack. Why did you do this to me? I so enjoyed the first two-thirds of your story, but that last third was just a killer disappointment. You started off so well! You had an amazing prologue, great characters, an interesting story and tons of techno-babble, most of which I even understood! I loved racing along with you through the crazy-scary world your characters lived in, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
But then. Oh, but then. We came to the ending, Brain Jack, and you let me down. That ending? Sucked. The revelation of the villain was boring and, when compared to the “reality” of the rest of the book, unbelievable as hell. The fight scene with the villain and the hero bordered on the absurd and by the time I got to the last page I was wondering what the hell had happened.
The techno-thriller has turned techno-fantasy! The hero turned into his own dues ex machina and I was HORRIFIED. This was not a good way to end our relationship, Brain Jack. You did a weird metamorphosis from caterpillar to hummingbird and while I don’t mind either of those things the switch-over from one to the other didn’t make any sense to me. Where’s the butterfly, Brain Jack? What did you to with it?
I think we can still be friends, Brain Jack. I don’t hate you, I just don’t adore you like I did at the start of our relationship. I’d introduce you to others, but I wouldn’t recommend they go steady, if you know what I mean. Sorry, Brain Jack. We had a lot of fun, but I prefer my books to be completely awesome instead of only half awesome.
Basically: Started off strong, continued to be strong, and then fizzled out at the end. Still a good read, but slightly disappointing.
If you like: Cory Doctorow’s books, cyberpunk, Feed, or if you’re a computer geek, you’ll like Brain Jack.
On Friday, on his way to school, Sam Wilson brought the United States of America to its knees.
He didn’t mean to. He was actually just trying to score a new computer and some other cool stuff, and in any case the words “to its knees” were the New York Times’ not his. (And way over the top in Sam’s view.) Not as bad though as the Washington Post. Their headline writers must have been on a coffee binge because they screamed
in size-40 type when their presses finally came back online.
Anyway it was only for a few days, and it really wasn’t a disaster at all. At least not compared to what was still to come. (page 21)