Friday, June 18, 2010

iBoy - Kevin Brooks

'I had no major problems, no secrets,no terrors, no vices, no nightmares, no special talents...I had no story to tell. I was just a kid, that's all.'

Tom Harvey lives in Crow Town, a sink estate of  eight tower blocks which are plagued by twin problems of drugs and gangs. When walking home from school to a friends house an iPhone is thrown from the 30th floor of one of those tower blocks at Tom, it cracks his skull and pieces of the iconic technology lodge and fuse in his brain. Tom wakes up to find himself in hospital with some pretty cool abilities.

How would you like to make calls, send texts and log on to the Internet using your brain? Tom can do this and more - but what he discovers using his abilities is a world of pain and grief, his lifetime friend has been gang raped and her brother beaten up.

What would you do?

Kevin Brooks' new novel for YA readers is a fast paced thriller which manages to combine the big questions -  What is right? Who determines what is right? Why do gangs exist and How far does personal responsibility extend? - with an action packed story that kept me hooked right 'til the last page. Brooks does not talk down to his readers, hence the big questions, and does not shy away from dealing with the grim reality of many children's lives. All of this is however achieved with a light touch and an instinct for when to draw back and when to pile on the reality/morality/storytelling.

Being a technophobe I was entirely convinced by the explanation of how Tom's superpowers worked and was captivated by the burgeoning relationship between Tom and Lucy. Infact, Brooks doesn't put a foot wrong in this grim but uplifting tale of a superhero who realises that knowledge is power but with knowledge must come responsibility.

I will be waiting and hoping that this is only the first instalment of Tom's story.

This book would be good for 14+ readers bearing in mind the themes of gang violence, drugs, gang rape and vigilantism that are explored in the book. It would be a great book for older reluctant readers who want something with a more adult content and who are not necessarily intimidated by slightly longer length.

'iBoy' is published on the 1st July.

My thanks to Penguin for supplying me with an advance copy of this book for review.

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