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.
In a not terribly distant future, teen Sam Wilson catches the eye of the Homeland Security Cyber Defense Division because of his preternatural hacking instincts; he is given the classic work-for-us-or-go-to-prison-forever nonchoice. The department is reluctant to use the newfangled neuro-headset technology (which lets users interface directly with their computers and the Net through brain waves), but the advantage they give to the bad guys is too much to discount. What they don't fully consider, though, are the implications of such unfettered access to the human consciousness. The hacking scenes are relentlessly paced, and Falkner's stimulating mix of technobabble ( I'm going to crash the shell with a buffer overflow and get in via the rhosts file ) and metaphor ( A trapdoor in the firewall, Sam thought as he hurled a frag grenade at a murky pool of the intruder's code ) should appeal to geeks but carry the less savvy as well. Think of this as the high-octane, adrenalized sibling of Cory Doctorow's more lesson-laden Little Brother (2008).--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist