Tag Archives: internet

Brain Jack – Brian Falkner
Book Reviews
January 6, 2010 posted by Katie

Brain Jack – Brian Falkner

It would take a very special person to crack the computer systems of the White House.

An expert. A genius. A devil. All of the above, some would say.

Someone like Sam Wilson, brilliant teenage computer hacker. But Sam’s obsession is about to lead him into a dangerous world. A world of espionage and intrigue; of cybercrime and imminent war.

A world where logging on to your computer could mean the difference between life and death.

Sam Wilson is just your average teenager. At least he looks like your average teenager. What is different about Sam is his ability with computers. Sam can access nearly anything that is on the internet. He has written his own computer programs to allow this and just recently pulled off one of the biggest hacks the world has seen – with a few side effects. Sam hacked into Telecomerica, got himself and his friend a new computer and neuro-headset, but in the process, caused the majority of the United States of America to lose power. For a few days.

Of course, if you ask Sam, none of that was meant to happen but he needed to blow off his trackers somehow. And as Sam successfully gets his new computer without any obvious form of detection, Sam is ready for his next challenge – NetH@ack. The secret convention of the most skilled hackers on the net. With belief in his ability that he can’t be caught, Sam almost succeeds. That is, until the Cyber Defence Division of Homeland Security knocks on his door.

Transport to a containment facility, Sam is destined to be a prisoner for the rest of his life. Seemingly forgotten by all but his mother, it is the worst situation Sam could have ended up in. Constant security, no internet access and limited computer time on a computer so ancient and riddled in security protection, that it seems impossible to get through. Apparently. But if you know what Sam does, then it seems like biding your time is all that you have to do.

Making one of the most daring escape attempts in the history of Recton Hall, against all odds, Sam succeeds only to be picked up, again, by the Cyber Defence Division which seems like it was waiting for this exact move, somehow knowing that Sam would try to escape. Once Sam reaches CDD headquarters, everything that he thought he knew, gets turned completely on its head. Sam is given a lifetime opportunity – if he can survive the probation.

And when the next war begins, it starts in cyberspace, and Sam is part of the front line of defence, and it’s up to Sam to stop the internet taking over the world.

Brian Jack by Brian Falkner is a fast moving action thriller that kept me turning page after page, wondering what is going to happen next. When I started reading, and I found that Brian Jack was based in cyberspace, I was worried that it would become too technical, that I wouldn’t understand the language being used, but quite like his previous novel Falkner provides a way that you don’t need to be a tech-savvy person to understand and enjoy the novel. The feeling of being in over your head only enhances the understanding of the stakes the characters would be going through. The development of Sam from a teenager who believes he can do anything into a person who understands the implications of what one single action will have on the world is believable and engaging from start to finish.

A good read with a fast plot and an action thriller for all ages.

Pages: 438

Publication Date: 2009

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Feed – M. T. Anderson
Book Reviews
December 16, 2009 posted by Katie

Feed – M. T. Anderson

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

So says Titus, a teenager whose ability to read, write, and even think for himself has been almost completely obliterated by his “feed,” a transmitter implanted directly into his brain. Feeds are a crucial part of life for Titus and his friends. After all, how else would they know where to party on the moon, how to get bargains at Weatherbee & Crotch, or how to accessorize the mysterious lesions everyone’s been getting? But then Titus meets Violet, a girl who cares about what’s happening to the world and challenges everything Titus and his friends hold dear. A girl who decides to fight the feed.

When I first saw Feed mentioned in Maggie Stiefvater’s ‘Top Twelve Books of 2009’, I knew that I had to read this novel. (For those who don’t know, Maggie is the author of Shiver) What gripped me from the first page of this novel is the sense of grim reality. This isn’t a novel where everything is carefully scripted, it’s honest and raw. Dialogue and thought coming from a place that strikes me as real. Through every thought of Titus I got a sense of being completely in over my head, struggling to find meaning of events taking place. Which, I believe, is exactly the response author M. T. Anderson was looking for.

Feed opens with a group of friends on spring break who have decided to take off to the moon to find entertainment. But the moon isn’t exactly what they expected. They run into Violet, who for all appearances is as average and normal as the rest of them. Except for the fact she was home-schooled and needs to live a little. Yet everything doesn’t run smoothly on the moon. For Titus and his friends become the subjects of a hacker, resulting in their feeds being disconnected, leaving them shut off from the world. Imagine having the internet permanently accessible to you, then suddenly it’s gone. Yet this internet is the basis of everything. Communication, human contact. The world.

All too soon – or not soon enough depending on your point of view – the technicians of FeedTech have fixed the problem and Titus, Violet and their friends can continue on with their normal life as American consumers. However one member of this group doesn’t have it as easy as the rest. Even before the hack, Violet was about defying the feed. About not conforming to society. Testing the boundaries to see how far she can push. And her limit may have just arrived, for her feed hasn’t recovered the same as everyone else’s. Slowly, Violet is losing control of her most basic functions and without the money to fund repairs, Violet and Titus know that she only has a short amount of time to live.

With not enough time to do anything, Violet tries to do everything. Yet underneath it all there is still her belief in fighting the system. Her belief that there is something more out there than the average American. But can she communicate this to Titus in a way he can understand before it’s too late?

I’ve always measure novels in terms of how well I can get lost in the story. Feed is one that had me completely lost in the story. Anderson wove a story that was so compelling and so real. This isn’t a fantasy or alternate universe with different rules. It’s a grim look at a future possible reality. The ‘feeds’ which is the subject matter of a large portion of the novel is a highly advanced internet interface which is installed in your brain – it takes over everything from breathing and moving and completely removes the necessity of reading. It categories and records everything you do, building a profile of you used by American corporations. It is a place that we could very well be heading. A scary and controlling place. And through this, we have Violet who is fighting for a better world, a world where youth don’t live in ignorance of what is happening outside of their suburb, where youth remember the history of the past and what the world used to be like. It is Violet who made this novel all the more real, as she tries to break from society.

This is just one of those novels that needs to be read. At the core, one girls emotional and physical struggle to change the world, seen through the eyes of one that struggles and fails to break free of the constraints of society.

A warning to younger readers, frequent coarse language does occur.

Pages: 300

Publication date: 2004

Rating:: ★★★★★