Review: iBoy by Kevin Brooks

November 23, 2011 Review, Scholastic, Science Fiction, YA 7

  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Chicken House (November 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0545317681
  • Source: Publisher

Tom was an pretty unremarkable teen, just another individual to blend into the crowd. Growing up in the Crows, a gang-infested South London housing project, one did what they could just to survive, to remain anonymous, not to be noticed. Then one day, that all changed.  As he was walking to meet his long-time friend (and crush) Lucy, someone calls his name from the top of a towering building. Then, the only thing he feels is pain.

He wakes up in the hospital, learning that an iPhone cracked his skull, bits of the phone are still lodged in his brain. These pieces lodged in his brain start to communicate with his brain; Tom becomes a humanoid iPhone, his brain capable of searching the internet, overhearing phone conversations, reading text messages. 

It is using this knowledge that he learns that Lucy was viciously attacked and raped.  In the Crows, no one talks to the police. The police are unable to apprehend those who attacked her, so Tom takes it upon himself to do so.  In addition to his other new skills, his body has created an electrified defense mechanism of sorts. At will, his body illuminates, capable of shooting out streams of electrical charges to anyone who threatens him.  Tom, in his new identity of iBoy, begins hunting down those people who injured Lucy, desperate to get to the source of the terror that hangs over the Crows and eliminate it…forever.

It is appropriate to mention the famous quote from Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Tom’s character is not unlike Spiderman, the two are actually compared in the book. Both Tom and Peter Parker are nobodies, wimps really, until something happens to them that changes their life forever.  Both characters, first thrilled with their newly-gained powers,  soon realizes they have to face the repercussions their actions. They become awfully close to becoming just as bad and evil as the criminals they are trying to stop. Brooks does an outstanding job of portraying this inner turmoil that Tom must face.

Another thing that captured me was the overall grittiness of the book: the setting is dark and depressing, the helplessness that Lucy feels after she is attacked. All of this is so genuine, so real, so pervasive. Brooks really gets inside his characters, allowing his readers to do the same as well.

Due to the violence, I would definitely NOT recommend this to anyone under 14-16 years of age. While the details of the crime are not discussed, it is evident in the retelling. I don’t believe it’s one of those things a young reader could (or should) overlook in their reading of this book.

I have to admit, when I was pitched the book I was sort of skeptical; a boy with an iPhone embedded in his head? Really? Truly, however, this book has really impressed me.  Not only the characters, but the inner battles Tom must face to embrace his new powers and the consequences of his actions.  Highly recommended.

I have one copy of the book for giveaway. To enter, please fill out the form below. The winner will be contacted via email on Wednesday, November 30th. Open to US & Canadian residents only. Good luck!

7 Responses to “Review: iBoy by Kevin Brooks”

  1. Lori Strongin
    Twitter: LStrongin

    Okay, I TOTALLY want to read this. I’m such an apple product fangirl, and just got my first iphone, so the idea of all that technology and apps fusing with a teenager’s brain is definitely something I want to read about.

    Thanks for the giveaway op!


  2. Leeswammes (Judith)
    Twitter: leeswammes

    Ouch, violence? My boys of 13 and 14 read this book recently, and at quite some speed. They enjoyed it a lot, I think. They never talk about what they read, though. To be fair, I’m happy they’re even reading, without bothering them too much about it.

    They haven’t had nightmares, so I think it was OK for them. They’ve read a number of books about dystopia which can also be rather bleak.

  3. Michelle

    I was pleasantly surprised by this book as well. Even though the sci-fi elements were present I liked that they were overshadowed by the real-world emotional issues of the story. It was a really great read.

  4. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    I have a feeling this one won’t be for me. But since both you and Michelle liked it, I could be wrong.