IBoy by Kevin Brooks

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iBoy by Kevin Brooks

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Wonderful mix of science fiction and kitchen sink drama in this latest book from one of Bookbag's all-time favourite children's authors.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Puffin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0141326107

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Tom Harvey is wandering along after school on his way to meet up with his friend Lucy when he hears his name called from up high in one of the tower blocks on his estate. He doesn't have time to look up before everything goes up. Waking up in hospital days later, Tom discovers he has fragments of a shattered iPhone embedded in his brain. And still worse, his friend Lucy has been gang-raped in a brutal attack that Tom had been so closed to walking in on.

Almost immediately, Tom realises that the iPhone is having an extraordinary effect. He knows things he didn't know before - in fact, he knows everything. He can hack into any database. He can electrocute things. It's devastating stuff. But what should he do with these powers? Identifying Lucy's attackers seems like a good start...

What with being a Kevin Brooks fangirl an' all, I adored iBoy. Brooks writes quite dark books and they often have quite sad endings, but there's a vein of rueful humour running through them and he's not afraid to pair the fantastical with some gritty reality. Here, the hapless Tom gets bonked on the head by an iPhone hurtling along at terminal velocity, wakes up in hospital after the coma it caused, and finds himself transformed into a bionic, all-knowing, all-hacking, all-electrocuting super hero. Um... ok! You'd think you were in for one of those ten-a-penny kick ass teen fantasies, wouldn't you?

But not so.

Tom's world is as hard and as real as anything in the kitchen sink line that deals with the teen experience of gangs and urban decay. This book is as at home on the realism shelf alongside books like The Dirty South by Alex Wheatle, The Knife That Killed Me by Anthony McGowan and Teacher's Dead by Benjamin Zephaniah as it is with other science fiction books. And it's this wonderful, idiosyncratic juxtaposition that makes Brooks's books so original and memorable. There's a lovely nascent relationship between Tom and Lucy going on too, so there's even romance to add into the mix.

The press sheet calls iBoy a genre-busting novel, and it is. Sexy superpowers, vigilantism, gangs, drugs violence, rape, and love - it sounds like a confusing mix. But it isn't at all. I loved it, and they will too.

My thanks to the good people at Puffin for sending the book.

Another Kevin Brooks book, Being by Kevin Brooks features a boy with technological implants. It's a super kind of Bladerunner reprise. Skinned by Robin Wasserman tells the story of Lia, a mech head whose brain was scanned, mapped, saved, and transferred into a machine designed to look and feel human after a fatal car accident. Younger readers might enjoy Jimmy Coates who is a teen assassin and only 38% human.

Buy IBoy by Kevin Brooks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy IBoy by Kevin Brooks at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy IBoy by Kevin Brooks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy IBoy by Kevin Brooks at Amazon.com.


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Nigethan Sathiyalingam said:

I'm a huge fan of Kevin Brooks, and I'm a huge fan of superpowers, and I'm a huge fan of revenge and vigilante justice (yes, I like Batman). So when I read your review of iBoy, my excitement level was off the chart, and I rushed to get a copy from the library. The book's got everything that a teenage fantasy would have, but it's also incredibly intelligent and hard-hitting. One of those books where I find myself really wishing that I'd written it! It's just so cool! And the great thing about this review is that it then led me to The Knife That Killed Me and Teacher's Dead - thank you very much :)