1.4 by Mike Lancaster

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Egmont, 2012. ISBN 9781405258180.
(Age: 15 +) Highly recommended. This is a compelling science fiction thriller which poses an intriguing future world. Mention of the WorldBrain and filaments which extend from the hands, would suggest this is a future where technological advances have progressed beyond our expectations. However, key elements of this new world have a familiar ring: a communication network called the Link accessed by LinkPads, tools like Linkepedia and SocNetworking (including FaceSpace and MyBook).
And at first, the central story line seems comfortingly familiar: filled with classrooms, college courses and a boy afraid to tell his science loving dad about taking a course in literature. However, gradually, it becomes a story about power and control and how science and technology can contribute to both. If all the world is connected by the Link then can't this be used (or misused) to control people?? For who, ultimately, controls the Link??
Just as importantly, if a brilliant scientific mind has failed to see a key element in the problem he is trying to resolve, couldn't this mean that his solution could be more dangerous than the problem itself? This theory is put forward by a student in a class discussion at the beginning of the story but quickly repudiated by the teacher. However, when the same claim is made at the end of the story it will resonate more strongly with the reader because by this stage, there is far more at stake: this is no longer a class discussion, this affects the future of the world and in particular, Vincent and Alpha, two characters we have come to care about.
This is a very clever story which will make readers think about the connectedness of our own world and the future that may lie ahead. Although it is a sequel, readers don't have to know the first book to enjoy this one, as enough detail is provided to acquaint us with the storyline. Intriguingly, whilst the ending is quite powerful, the door is left open for further books.
Deborah Marshall