1st July 2010, Penguin
Nayuleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥.5
Summary from Puffin
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 . . .
As you can see from the summary, the book is not about a boy obsessed with iPod. Or an iphone. No, the iphone is in his brain. Not all of it - no ring tones come out of his mouth or ears or anything. But he knows everything. Almost everything.
I'd like you to take a moment, and think about what we use our phones for. Texting. Tweeting. Calling. Looking information up on the internet. Searching for the nearest restaurant, browsing what's on at the cinema. Checking for direction to go to that cinema. Watching videos.
Technology has come a long way from when I first got a phone, which only texted, had no animated graphics, and certainly didn't connect to the internet. The vast expense that can be accessed on a phone is in Tom's brain.
So you think it might be fun to know everything just by thinking about it? It is a little fun. Even more fun because when Tom connects himself to the phone in his brain, something else pretty cool happens. The front cover is about as much of a clue as I'll give about it. That coolness saves his skin a few times.
However, it isn't cool. Because Tom sees first hand exactly what happened to Lucy. Lucy's assault wasn't just a few bruises. It was of a more adult nature. I wanted to cry for Lucy. And for those in the world that Lucy's fate happens to. Because what happened to Lucy happens every year, to innocent children around the world. This is the theme of the novel that really stuck out for me.
Tom's special powers are a large part of the book, with countless dilemmas thrust at him by having the phone in his brain. However, I feel that through using Tom's abilities, this sensitive issue can be approached in a way that will inform readers without overloading them with information. If the intended age group saw Lucy's assault as the main topic of the book, they might not necessarily read it. Having the assault as the catalyst for Tom's actions draws the reader's attention to it without putting them off.
Other issues explored in the book is the issue of right and wrong. What Tom does enters the grey area of life. Other characters, upon hearing about what he does, even say that what he does isn't quite right. But to him it is the least he can do for Lucy. Although he didn't always like the consequences of his actions, ones he couldn't have foreseen.
Also explored in some depth are issues related to gangs, bullying, and the personalities people can set up on the internet for themselves. How people can lose themselves to the internet, and feel the persona they set up for themselves should be the one living in the real world.
I really liked one part in the book, the part where Tom questions himself and switches into a different mode of viewing the world - the style of writing changes here, fitting the tone of the chapters. I think the only part I wasn't so keen on, which prevented me from giving it top rating was the ending. It is more than satisfactory, but somehow I expected something different to happen with Tom and his new powers. I thought they might fizzle out. The way it ended, I'm wondering if there will be a sequel. No way can Tom carry on with life as normal. His life is very different, but also quite normal in some respects. The normality makes it easier to relate to him as a reader.
Another great book on exploring similar themes of gangs and violence (although not phones in brains) is Keren David's When I Was Joe.
For a book which involves people having gadgets as part of their body, try Hybrids by David Thorpe