Tom Harvey is on his way to his friend Lucy’s flat when he hears his name called from the top of the 30-storey tower he and Lucy live in. As he looks up, he sees something falling rapidly towards him and seconds later he is hit by an iPhone which fractures his skull and shatters into thousands of tiny bits, some embedding themselves into Tom’s brain. When he wakes up in hospital days later, Tom soon realises that those shattered pieces of iPhone have altered his brain, and he finds himself with some kind of “super” powers. He has the ability to access just about any piece of information he desires through a wi-fi access and he also has the ability to electrocute people and control a force field around him. But with knowledge comes power and when Tom realises that Lucy has been assaulted, he takes it upon himself to find out who the culprits are, knowing full well that justice is otherwise never done on his estate. And for this purpose, he takes on the personae of iBoy. But things soon get out of control….
This is another compelling and exciting thriller from an author who excels in the genre. Kevin Brooks, like Melvin Burgess, is never shy of pushing the boundaries of what we might find acceptable, or believable. Just like with Being, he takes on a concept that any would find unbelievable and unachievable (the main character Tom says so himself in the story), plays about with it, makes it his own and turns into a story that actually you find yourself believing. In iBoy, Brooks not only paints a very vivid picture of gang culture and every-day life in South London tower blocks but also offers very pertinent observations about the potential of technology if in osmosis with our biggest tool, our brains. He also tackles the thorny and very current issue of rough justice. Tom’s inner struggle with his morals, trying to disassociate himself from the actions of iBoy (with narration switching from first to third to emphasise this), struggling with the rights and wrongs of his actions is I think what Kevin Brooks has got down to a T here.
Kevin Brooks writes intelligent and thought-provoking thrillers for an eloquent readership (I think this a particularly good read for boys), and this is another great example of his talent.