You can learn a lot about someone looking through their hard drive…
Sixteen-year-old Jan Rose knows that nothing is ever truly deleted. At least, not from the hard drives she scours to create the online identities she calls the Shadownet.
Hobby? Art form? Sad, pathetic plea to garner friendship, even virtually? Sure, Jan is guilty on all counts. Maybe she’s even addicted to it. It’s an exploration. Everyone has something to hide. The Shadownet’s hard drives are Jan’s secrets. They’re stolen from her family’s computer recycling business Assured Destruction. If the police found out, Jan’s family would lose its livelihood.
When the real people behind Shadownet’s hard drives endure vicious cyber attacks, Jan realizes she is responsible. She doesn’t know who is targeting these people or why but as her life collapses Jan must use all her tech savvy to bring the perpetrators to justice before she becomes the next victim.
Since I’m a Computer Science major, I’m always really particular about the technical details in technological mysteries. If they’re too far away from reality, I immediately shut down and judge the book more harshly than I normally would. Thankfully, this book was not one of those that made me cringe every time a technological concept was butchered. In fact, most of the technology in this book was just social media.
Social media is so prevalent in today’s society, especially for Gen Y, that I often wonder why more books don’t feature it as a main plot device. This book is centered around it in a way that is inclusive to all readers, even those that may not be familiar with Twitter, blogs, or Facebook. All the other highly technical concepts such as servers and networks are explained pretty well too. So for the accuracy and legitimacy of this book, I approve. Now moving on to the story and the characters.
Thank you, Michael F. Stewart for creating a REAL heroine. She’s not perfect, she’s not unbearably smart, and she deals in shades of grey. I’m sick of boring girls who either follow a guy along for the majority of the book or are so lucky that life just falls into place for them. Jan isn’t perfect (she’s failing a lot of her courses), she does things wrong (steals hard drives instead of recycling them), has trouble with guys (Johnny and Karl), has family problems (her mother has MS and has recently started dating) and yet still somehow manages to get by. She’s strong, smart, and independent which are qualities I want all young adult novels with female protagonists to promote. I thought she was amazing and likeable enough that a lot of different types of teens will enjoy reading about her.
The plot moves at a great pace as well. It’s really nice how there’s a mystery aspect to his book so as Jan is trying to figure out who’s after her, the reader is too. I was taken aback by the ending and I can usually see things coming a mile away. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I like how it’s the start of a series. I can see teenagers really falling in love with Jan and her world.