Review: iBoy

Tom Harvey’s head is cracked open by an iPhone that was dropped from a 30th floor window. While doctors are able to remove most of the phone from his head, small fragments remain implanted in his brain. When Tom wakes up from a coma, he discovers that his brain has the capabilities of a smartphone….and then some. He can not only use his brain to browse the Internet, make calls, and record videos, he can also access other peoples’ phone records and security information and zap people with electricity.

Tom’s accident was not a mere coincidence, though. While in the hospital, he finds out that his injury coincided with the attack and rape of his friend Lucy. Like any good superhero with newly acquired superpowers, he strikes back with some vigilante justice on the local gang members who hurt her. His anonymity is maintained by the iSkin that disguises him when he uses his powers. However, Tom must consider the costs and benefits of keeping his identity a secret, especially when life and love are on the line.

Between iBoy and When I Was Joe, I have developed a fear of British youth. Both books feature significant gang problems. Lesson learned: Stay away from teen boys in London if you don’t want to get knifed. Also, read both of these books if you enjoy hearing about boys beating the crap out of each other while using British slang.

Aside from that, iBoy is a book with an awesome premise that unfortunately dragged on a bit for me, but will likely be enjoyed by those who appreciate a story that follows the usual superhero archetype (including many references to other superheroes like Batman and Spiderman). That is admittedly not my niche, and not quite what I was expecting. The iPhone is used primarily as a plot device, a vehicle for Tom’s powers. While there are overarching questions about justice and morality, Brooks doesn’t delve into the philosophical implications of permanent attachment to technology in the way books like M.T. Anderson’s Feed do. In that sense, iBoy didn’t fulfill my expectations, but it is still a book I would gladly pass on to readers who enjoy science fiction, technology, and superheroes.

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