Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 95
People should be free to think.
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The template for the story is familiar so it will be easy to follow the plot. Hana dreams of attending Start-Up like her older sister but she soon learns that something nefarious is going on at the school. Large corporations are presented as the antagonists while their motives remain secret. Why would they care about different fungi and parasites and what does that have to do with the school? Hana tiptoes into the center of the drama as she reluctantly gets drawn in and she’s assisted by two classmates. The new friends have differing opinions throughout the book which offers a twist to a familiar story. Tomas is withholding a secret that will eventually be revealed to his friends.
Some moral issues concerning technology are at the forefront of the plot. The right to privacy is in doubt as all citizens are meshed, their brains becoming connected to the multiweb. It allows instant contact with friends, games, and news, but the corporations are also able to track everything people do. In addition, a point is made that the control of knowledge is power. People feel informed due to electronic connections to information but who’s controlling the news? Brainwashing is highly possible when corporations can decide what information and “truth” to share with the public. Hana’s own family finds itself on both sides of the issue of anti-tech and becoming enmeshed.
Hana’s character bridges the conflict between corporations and the rebellion against technology. The corporations are starting to control her school as traditions and procedures are changed. Hana discovers things feel wrong and some of her technology doesn’t work properly. She likes to build small, mechanical bots and frequently visits the Junkyard looking for parts she can use and recycle. She meets a tough girl named Ink and becomes drawn into the untold world of technology. Ghost Crab Nation refers to the name of a major anti-tech group. Hana is forced to face the conflicting stories of being meshed and must rethink her future. To complicate matters, Hana’s mother works at the largest corporation in the world and her research places her at the center of a covert plot.
What didn’t work as well:
The early chapters of the book share the common story framework of secret, evil things going on behind the scenes at a character’s dream school. However, the rest of the plot morphs into an engaging conspiracy with many unexpected twists and turns. More surprises await even after Hana figures out what’s actually happening.
The Final Verdict:
People should be free to think. The plot considers issues related to technology as it continues to become more invasive in our lives. Hana’s friends and family provide different perspectives on the issues but struggles with both groups add additional problems for her character. I recommend you give this book a shot!
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