Review Blog

Feb 28 2011

iBoy by Kevin Brooks

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Penguin, 2011. ISBN 978 0141326108.
(Ages 14+) Speculative Fiction. Recommended. Tom and Lucy's lives are shattered one day by two incidents that are linked, although neither realise it at the time. The Crow Estate is a rough place to grow up. The tower blocks are the homes of two rival gangs which operate as a law unto themselves.
When an iphone is thrown from the 30th floor of a tower block and hits Tom on the head it almost kills him. When Ben, Lucy's brother is beaten up and Lucy gang raped in their flat, Lucy withdraws from life numbed and taumatised by the experience. As Tom recovers weird things begin to happen in his brain. He is able to link with electronic networks around him; he can access the net, text, sent emails, hack into data bases and listen in to mobile phone conversations at will.
Through this network he learns of Lucy's rape and discovers the perpetrators through the video footage he can access. His anger and desire for revenge lead him to take on a different persona: a kind of super hero he labels iBoy. As his understanding and control of his new power increases he understands how powerful he can be.
But there is also a moral dilemma. How should he use this power? If he uses this power for revenge and payback isn't he acting in the same way as a gang member? If he has this power exactly who and how should he help and who should he exclude?
Kevin Brooks knows how to manipulate his readers. The story, even given the outlandish premise, invites you to put yourself in Tom's place. The moral outrage at what has been done and the inability of anyone to do anything about it urges Tom to use his powers to crush the gangs, but the consequences of such actions tend to be put at the back of your mind.
A great read with plenty of violent action, information and food for thought.
Mark Knight

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