Saturday, September 28, 2013

REVIEW: "Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie" - by Michael F. Stewart (Tribute Books Blog Tour)

"Jan Rose no longer steals data from the old computers she recycles. She doesn't need to. As the newest member of the police department’s High Tech Crime Unit, the laptop of a murderer has landed on her desk. Her job: to profile and expose a killer.

But that’s not all.

A creep lurks in the shadows, stalking a friend, and Jan must stop him before the hunt turns deadly. The clock counts down for Jan to save her friend, her job, her boyfriend—maybe even her life."

Formats: paperback & ebook
Release: August 2013
Pages: 156
ISBN: 9780981269979
Publisher: Non Sequitur Press


After crewing ships in the Antarctic and the Baltic Sea and some fun in venture capital, Michael anchored himself (happily) to a marriage and a boatload of kids. Now he injects his adventurous spirit into his writing with brief respites for research into the jungles of Sumatra and Guatemala, the ruins of Egypt and Tik’al, paddling the Zambezi and diving whatever cave or ocean reef will have him. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and SF Canada, and the author of the Assured Destruction series, 24 Bones, The Sand Dragon, Hurakan, Ruination and several award winning graphic novels for young adults.


It is not unheard of for the government to hire individuals who have caused them heaps o' trouble for virtual reasons.  Who better to protect computer systems than someone skilled at hacking?  Who better to track down con artists than a con artist?  I'm sure they have means of weeding out the goofs from those who are actually able to take their mischievous skills and wield them in the fight for justice...but what if the person wielding some made skills is 16 years old and is seriously not taken seriously due to her youth and *cough* unconventional methods?

The Good
This book is uber l33t!!  Alright, there's pretty much the extent of my g33k l33t sp33k.  : )

First things first - this book is a sequel.  That being said, I've already read and reviewed the first book in the series: "Assured Destruction".  It would be a boon to you to check out this review first for some context.  :)

Alrighty, now for this l33t work:

I love this book!  Now, I'm not gonna gush like some Mountain Dew powered, giddy gamer whose PUG finally downed a super tricky, majorly OPed boss (been there, done that, it's pretty thrilling but a little off topic), but I really did enjoy this book!

In my post on the first book in this series, I talked a little about my limited skills with computers.  My hubby is the one who was a computer tech for several years...not me.  The extent of my super technical computer knowledge is enough to keep my WoW and Dragon Age toons going, do office work, some minor photo and video editing, etc.  Though I completed a master's thesis on the merit of gaming language in theology, my computer is essentially a massive storage unit for pictures, files, and a couple of games. 

For Jan Rose, computers are so much more!

In Script Kiddie, we pick up the story of Jan Rose, a 16-year-old girl who has just had a rather epic adventure that nearly destroyed her literal life, as well as her virtual existence.  Now Jan has a new outlook on life, new appreciation for the world of hacking that is slowly becoming her world, new "job" (can you call mandatory community service hours a job?), oh..and a new boyfriend!  

As if Jan didn't have enough to worry about, the little company her mother struggles to run is rapidly going under, there is more to her mother's boyfriend than meets the eye, she cannot miss a single day of school, and there's something creepy happening to a friend at school.

Is that enough to intrigue you?

Good.  Go read the book!

Seriously, I'm not kidding (ah ha ha, Script Kiddie, I'm not kidding.....*crickets*....oh well, it was funny to me)!!!!!!!  As in the first book, this book plays to its audience very well.  Chapters are again the perfect length, the work contains very few reasons to visit the Grammar ER, the characters are beautifully drawn, etc.  Many of the things I loved about the first book are true for this one as well.  

Script Kiddie, however, improves on the first book by quite a lot.  Why?  Well, for one thing character motives are more fleshed out, and characters themselves have much more depth (it would be hard not to, seeing as this work gave Stewart more opportunity to work with them).  It also feels very much like Stewart is much more comfortable working in Janus' voice.  

The format of this book is awesome - twitter posts from Janus' various online personas start each chapter, as well as a snarky note regarding how many service hours are remaining on Janus' sentence.  Janus' snarky/peppy/stubborn personality remains consistent no matter what is happening, though I would hazard to say that she grows a little by the end.  The plot moves quickly and efficiently, much like a hacker at work. 

Oh hackers.  Due to some, legally colorful activities in the first book, Janus has been sentenced to serve community service hours (2000 of them....geez!) as a member of a kind of digital crime investigation unit within the police force.  She's put on a case, then almost immediately taken off again due to some more legally colorful ways of trying to figure out the case.  The problem?  She's smart-mouthed, snarky, determined, is not quite sure what to do with this new boyfriend thing she's acquired, her mother's boyfriend seems a little too much like Shepherd Book from the television show "Firefly" (there's much, much more than meets the eye to this man, but it isn't obvious if that "much more" is a good thing or not), and etc etc etc....just a typical teen trying to figure out how to be an adult, right?

Well, typical teens don't often spend loads of time trying to become a member of the elite hacker crowd, but this is just what Janus does.  Stewart walks us along Janus' journey as she learns the language and how to interact with this crowd, begins to discover just what they are capable of...and experiences some blunders along the way, oh and tries to figure out how to rescue a friend and her mother's business...and catch criminals.  All in a day's hacking, right?

Janus is loveable, snarky, and will be forever one of my favorite literary characters (right up there with Anne of Green Gables, Sir Sparhawk from The Elenium, and anyone by Brian Jacques).  She is cute and pugnacious, witty and snarky (seriously, I love her sense of humor and snappy comebacks), determined and fiercely loyal.  Somehow she reminds me of a bright-eyed ferret.  :)  That's a good thing.  :)

I love everything about this story - it flows well, the characters are loveable and endearing (for the most part), it speaks to a new generation of readers who would absolutely just die if their phone went missing, and holds readers' attention.  Yay!  

The Bugly (bad/ugly), I don't really have anything to nitpick about here.  The major things that bugged me are things that I assume will be resolved in Book 3 (which Stewart has indicated is in the works).  Namely, I HATE cliffhangers and this book ended on some pretty major ones (just what is the deal with Mom's boyfriend, what is going on with Jan's father, what will happen when...oops! Almost gave something away!). That being said, the cliffhanger here (while more major than the one from Book 1 to Book 2) was handled well and in a way that made me want to read the next one, rather than make me want to strangle the author for an obvious ploy to read the next book.  

I guess the only real thing I can pick on is formatting - while the Twitter feeds just plain work to start each chapter, sometimes it is unclear what is a Twitter post and what is not, but I suspect that wonky italicizing is due to something goofy happening with my e-reader.

This is a fabulous book!  It is smart, witty, fast-paced, and shows girls as the computer savvy creatures we are capable of stuff is not just for boys!  Characters are real, feel more developed than in the first book, and make you want to be their friend.  It is kind to those of us who only have a basic computer understanding, and is just plain fun to read.  Seriously, it made me LOL in a few places.  :)

This book earns a 5 out of 5 on my scale.

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  1. Nora, Anne of Green Gables and Sir Sparhawk from The Elenium! My job here is done! Thank you so much for the awesome review. I only hope I don't let you down in book 3. :)

  2. Wow, ranking Janus right up there with Anne of Green Gables as one of your all-time favorite heroines is high praise indeed! I can tell how much you've enjoyed Michael's series, Nora. Thanks for the spectacular 5 star review :)