I love social media. It’s a great way to meet new authors and discover their works. Every once in a while I’ll see a “free book” re-tweet from a friend and it’s about an author I don’t know. I’ll almost always click and usually I’ll grab it. Will I always read it? Eventually I’ll give it a shot. Sometimes I’ve even glad I did.
You can learn a lot about someone looking through their hard drive …
Sixteen-year-old Jan Rose knows that nothing is ever truly deleted. At least, not from the hard drives she scours to create the online identities she calls the Shadownet.
Hobby? Art form? Sad, pathetic plea to garner friendship, even virtually? Sure, Jan is guilty on all counts. Maybe she’s even addicted to it. It’s an exploration. Everyone has something to hide. The Shadownet’s hard drives are Jan’s secrets. They’re stolen from her family’s computer recycling business Assured Destruction. If the police found out, Jan’s family would lose its livelihood.
When the real people behind Shadownet’s hard drives endure vicious cyber attacks, Jan realizes she is responsible. She doesn’t know who is targeting these people or why, but as her life collapses Jan must use all her tech savvy to bring the perpetrators to justice before she becomes the next victim.
This young adult science fiction novel was a great read. I’m a big fan of Cory Doctorow and this reminded me a lot of Little Brother. The protagonist is a smart and sensitive kid who gets in over her head fast, just as Cory’s protagonist did. In this case Jan doesn’t end up going to prison, but things get dire for her fast. It’s written in first person and the pages fly by. First person doesn’t work for everyone, but I like the intimacy it can deliver. Jan’s a character I can identify with. I knew kids like her growing up and I know some adult versions of her. Having a strong, and yet far from perfect, lead is vitally important in fiction in general, more so when you make the first person POV choice.
The other things I enjoyed about this book were all of the issues it raised about cyber-security and the need for it whatever your age might be. I geek for a living and the technical details Michael includes are spot on, but he includes them in a way that won’t go over the head of most teens. This is the world most of them live in. We put our trust in companies of all shapes and sizes, giving them every bit of data they need to sink us. Many of us, myself included, put our lives online for hundreds of people to see. As an adult, I hope I do it responsibly. As a teen, I know I wouldn’t have and many today don’t. I hope this makes the readers think about it and have some fruitful discussions with their parents. The whole book is very timely.
The plot and pacing are very tight. This is a thriller and Michael keeps raising the stakes and making things tough on Jan, her family, and her friends. There are also elements of a mystery. He kept me guessing all the way through, though a more scrupulous reading may have told me what was going to happen. Regardless, this book did what mystery thrillers need to do.
Finally, let me make an appeal. I would love to see this as a graphic novel. If there are any artists reading this, give it a look and contact Michael. 😉
I give this story five thumb drives out of five.