Friday, 29 April 2011


I read this after my younger brother.  He insisted it was great, I felt somewhat dubious based on the fact that it had a highly improbable plot (sixteen-year-old  Tom Harvey has iPhone fall on his head and gains magical powers).  After he read it in two days, and it took more effort to prise him away from it than it normally would to get him to stop playing on a game, I figured there had to be something to it.  I was expecting to write a review that said it would be great for a younger audience.  Actually, I think it was just generally pretty great.

I swear as you're reading the plot makes perfect sense.  The 'powers' are all logical extensions of what an iPhone can do, and once you've suspended disbelief enough to get started it rapidly becomes so intriguing and enjoyable that you forget that this is based on a rather dubious premise.

Tom's close friend Lucy was raped at the same time he had a phone dropped on his head, and her brother was beaten up.  Now that he has powers, he can seek revenge against the gangs who rule the estate he lives on, but how far is too far to go?  And is there any point when nothing can change what happened to Lucy?

As iBoy, moreover, Tom starts up a MySpace page and starts chatting to Lucy.  When she subsequently sees him outside her door, stopping the gangs from scrawling lewd graffiti on it, she realises iBoy on MySpace is her real world protector.  And starts talking to Tom about it, creating an interesting conflict between the real Tom and the iBoy Tom.

As a book, I guess it raises all sorts of 'issues'.  But it's also a really good read, half way between a superhero novel and 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time'.  The characters are convincingly portrayed, and you find yourself developing quite significant attachments to them.  It's also, like the other Kevin Brooks books I've read, one of those that I suspect will stay with me in some form or other for a long time.

Half of me would like to see a sequel, half of me will be happy if there isn't.  There's something quite conclusive about the ending but which still leaves unresolved the issue of what Tom will continue to do with his newfound 'powers' and how he adapts to being back at school again with the ability to access wikipedia instantly in lessons.  I wonder if there's any fanfiction out there...

In short, don't be put off by the blurb.  I nearly was, and I nearly missed out on a brilliant read.

No comments: