Review: iBoy – Kevin Brooks

Synopsis from Goodreads.
What can he do with his new powers — and what are they doing to him?

Before the attack, Tom Harvey was just an average teen. But a head-on collision with high technology has turned him into an actualized App. Fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain. And they’re having an extraordinary effect on his every thought.

Because now Tom knows, sees, and can do more than any normal boy ever could. But with his new powers comes a choice: To avenge Lucy, the girl he loves, will he hunt down the vicious gangsters who hurt her? Will he take the law into his own electric hands and exterminate them from the South London housing projects where, by fear and violence, they rule?

Not even his mental search engine can predict the shocking outcome of iBoy’s actions.

I’ve never really been technological. I mean, I can use a computer. I can use a phone. I can use a Kindle. Sometimes I kind of link them all together if I’m feeling particularly frisky one day.

But when people say that they prefer Windows to Apple, I zone out. I don’t know whether I’m a Mac or a PC. The adverts meant nothing to me except omfg it’s Jeremy and Mark!*
I mean, if Jeremy is a Mac and Mark is a PC, then surely they’re both as awesome as each other? Do I have to choose between them? I don’t want to. No, I refuse.

What’s Super Hans? Let’s face it, I’m going to be whatever he is.
In all seriousness though, I cannot believe that this book was written by the same author that wrote Naked which was such an excellent book that I can’t recommend it enough.

This book was… I don’t know. I can’t even say it wasn’t what I was expecting because it was basically exactly what I was expecting. A boy is standing under a block of flats and someone throws an iPhone off the 30th floor and it embeds himself into his head. When he wakes up from his coma he discovers that his brain is now an…iBrain (Brooks’ words, not mine). Needless to say, he’s not an ‘App-y chappy.
Geddit? App….y?
Never mind.

OK, so first up I’ll talk about the idea. I’m OK with suspending my disbelief when I read books. A fact, I feel, that was proven by me actually picking up this book. I understand that this story will never and could never happen. If I wanted to read a book where the science was 100% and everything was believable, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to read a book where a boy turns into an iPod….would I?

So I was OK with this and I was quite happy to read a story where everything was left a bit up in the air. Unfortunately, it seems, Mr Brooks wasn’t. There were times when this story descended into a bit of an instruction manual and it left me completely lost and it managed to yank me out of a story that I was actually really involved in. There was absolutely tons of info-dumping. And I’m not saying that in the way that most people mean it with huuuuge chunks of descriptions about a fantasy world just in case you missed that point where the author was being really clever.. I mean actual info-dumping. There is part of the iPod instruction manual in a chapter. I’m not even joking.
I did try and understand the mechanics (again, literally) of what happened to Tom but…I mean… OK, I get that he can hack into people’s phones and bank accounts and stuff… but how can he create a forcefield around himself? Have I just got a crap iPhone that doesn’t do that? I have to admit it would be handy. Anyone who was annoying me I could just be like “Oh, one sec… someone’s ringing me!” and I’d whip out my phone and ZAP right in the face.
The more I tried to understand… the more delirious I became.
One of my notes is actually: “LOLOL. But why doesn’t he electrocute himself in the shower?”

The thing that was most frustrating about this book was that I know how brilliant Mr Brooks is at writing a great and engrossing plot. He did it in Naked and, to some extent, he did it with iBoy.
If you took away the iPlot and the zapping, this book would have been so good. Seeing the gangs of South London and all the horrifying things they do through Tom’s eyes wasn’t always easy. Mr Brooks has this way of really getting into the story, into the characters’ psyches and you can be reading it, hand over your mouth, thinking “No, he’s not going to go there…” and guess where he goes? There.
And I love that about him because, even though it was uncomfortable and it was realistic and brilliant.

But then iBoy got involved and zap, zap, zap and… I don’t know, it just really took something away with it. I won’t go into all the gritty details of what happens in this story but it’s so sad and so horrifying and the iPlot seemed to trivialise it almost. Which is crazy because I know that Mr Brooks can write emotions and darker subjects with subtlety and tact but this one was just way too much.
Also, for extra iLOLZ… this main event of this story happened the day before my birthday.

You may be thinking why I carried on reading this book if I didn’t like it at all and that was because of the characters. When Tom was Tom and there weren’t any lowercase is lurking anywhere, he was brilliant. The perfect balance between hero and regular kid, I really wanted to get to know him and not iBoy. And, of course, I loved Lucy. What a little sweetheart.
Also, Gram was BRILLIANT.

I so wish this had been a contemporary book because I know that it would have been unforgettable instead of being memorable for all the wrong reasons.

iDisappointed.

*And omfg there’s a new series coming soon. Who’s excited?!

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2 thoughts on “Review: iBoy – Kevin Brooks

  1. Oh, hmm, well, ah… an iPhone embeds itself into his head? Really? I don’t think I could have gone past that point, I mean all I can picture is a phone hitting his head and bouncing off not somehow working it’s way into his brain.

    Good on you for continuing with this, Jo!

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