From the BLURB:
Before the attack, sixteen-year-old Tom Harvey was just an ordinary boy. But now fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain and it's having an extraordinary effect ...Because now Tom has powers. The ability to know and see more than he could ever imagine. And with incredible power comes knowledge - and a choice. Seek revenge on the violent gangs that rule his estate and assaulted his friend Lucy, or keep quiet? Tom has control when everything else is out of control. But it's a dangerous price to pay. And the consequences are terrifying...
This is a YA scifi/vigilante thriller from Kevin Brooks.
Tom Harvey was hit on the head by a dropped smartphone. Upon awaking from surgery Tom discovers that parts of the phone are permanently imbedded in his head, allowing him to use electronic communications at will. Tom finds that he is able to mentally hack into computer systems, send phantom text-messages and trip websites using nothing but his thoughts. The World Wide Web is literarily at his mental fingertips.
When Tom’s friend and neighbour, Lucy, is attacked and gang raped on their Crow Town housing estate, Tom uses his powers of communication to take revenge on her rapists. Through his hacking and phantom texting Tom is able to exact a terrifying and well-deserved revenge against those gang members. But as the old saying goes, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’and Tom starts to realize that his 'powers' are more of a 'curse'.
‘iBoy’ is darker fare than most YA novels, and brilliantly so. Brooks explores the highs and lows of teen power through the character of Tom, whom he gifts with a seemingly incredible ability that any teenager would kill to have. Technology is at Tom’s fingertips – he is a resourceful young geek who is gifted with the ability to command communication technology;
And on the web .. .God, there was a whole world on the web. A world of so many things – good things, bad things, dull things, mad things – it was just like the real world. Just as wonderful, just as beautiful ... but also just as vile and sick and heart-breaking.‘iBoy’ is a book with teeth that really packs a punch. Brooks brilliantly marries high-tech scifi with a nitty-gritty vigilante storyline. And the story is quite dark, Lucy’s rape being just one example of how Brooks doesn’t talk down to, or soften the blows he delivers to his YA readers.
This is one YA book that will definitely (but no exclusively) appeal to a young teen male audience. The scifi aspect is infinitely fascinating, and will hold the interest of any techie-nerd. But Tom is a complex character, never more so than when he turns into the ‘Crow Town Avenger’ and starts to understand the dark down-side to his powers. ‘iBoy’ follows Tom’s complicated journey from nobody to quasi-superhero, and is a big ideas story that will appeal to teenagers, and even some adults.
I loved this book. I've never read a Kevin Brooks novel before, but based on ‘iBoy’ I will be rectifying that. He writes big ideas while exploring relatable teen issues, and he refuses to wrap his YA characters in cotton wool, or condescend to his savvy readers. Brilliant!