Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 1520
When technology goes rogue
(Updated: December 18, 2023)
Overall rating
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Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
Swift and Hawk are code names for Caleb and Zen, two members of a spy group located at a private school in London. Caleb’s expertise is in computer programming while Zen creates highly advanced robotic creatures. Zen is also more physically fit than most people so her agility, intelligence, and parkour talents will come in very handy to go undercover. A radical group against military weapon production plans an attack on a technology company that almost leads to devastating consequences. This group raises some challenging questions about the issue that may make readers question the business practices of big companies.
Caleb modified a video game his father created that uses an AI he calls Sam. Sam is an additional character since Caleb has programmed some personality parameters that allow it to analyze data and make suggestions. Caleb’s even trying to teach Sam how to be a little more positive when predicting how situations may turn out. Sam can decipher code, explore all areas of the internet, and help Caleb manipulate the technology he encounters. Caleb and Sam work together as a team even though Sam is a product of computer coding.
The book has a creative subplot that could be the focus of a story all by itself. Caleb’s father developed a very popular free video game called Terrorform while Caleb and Sam have improved it. Players can build settlements in the imaginary world but attacks from other players are possible. However, a conflict arises when an unknown group of players join the game and quickly grow to wreak mass destruction. Player groups are common but the transformation, development, and havoc surrounding the Nameless are unprecedented. Caleb has no idea of the identities behind the Nameless or their motives but he suspects a competing game company might be behind it. Regardless, the Nameless are ruining the game experience for all of the other players as their avatars and settlements are being systematically destroyed.
What didn’t work as well:
There is a strong dependency on Sam and he seems almost magical at times. Caleb gets ideas but Sam is often the one who handles the problems. Sam researches information, uses security cameras to monitor suspects and surroundings, and reprograms computers that present problems or obstacles. The human characters would be lost without Sam.
The final verdict:
There is a strong focus on technology so math, science, and computer lovers should enjoy the book. I suggest reading the first book before this one as I felt I wasn’t understanding some references to earlier events. Overall, the story is an exciting adventure and I recommend you give it a shot.
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