Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

Tags: YA, cyberthriller


In the future United States, a savvy teen hacker named Sam breaks into the nation’s largest telecommunications office system to order himself a top-of-the-line neuro-headset and inadvertently causes a several-day meltdown of the US’s network. Because of this, Sam is courted by a top government computer security organization to put his skills to good use. However, Sam and his coworkers do not anticipate a new threat that awaits them. As the world turns from traditional keyboard-and-mouse technology to the faster hands-free neuro-headset, the power of society’s collective conscience may prove to be the most dangerous weapon ever accidentally created.


BRAIN JACK is an edge-of-your-seat cyberthriller stuffed full of technical jargon. It will definitely not appeal to everyone, particularly those who like their characters more developed and the storytelling tighter, but if you’re interested in an absorbing, probably-too-smart-for-its-own-good thriller, then this is an interesting choice.

I of course like well-developed characters, but I can make exceptions when the author can convince me that he knows what he’s talking about with the premise—even if he doesn’t. And Brian Falkner convinced me. I don’t consider myself particularly technologically savvy, especially for the mechanics of computer hardware and the Internet, but I found myself enjoying the characters’ unending technical term-dropping. It sucked me right into a cyber-world that I knew very little about, and so I was sufficiently impressed by the terminology used to get into the story.

Where BRAIN JACK started unraveling for me was upon the introduction of the book’s main nemesis. I won’t spoil it for interested readers, but the idea is conceivable if we stretch our imaginations a bit. However, the book then resorts to wince-inducing action-adventure elements to force the plot along. These include: a getaway vehicle, a remote hideaway, and the obligatory car-and-gun chase, among others. It turns out that I was more satisfied with the world-building than with the actual plot of this book.

In terms of quality, there are better books out there, but if you’re looking into trying out a cyberthriller and are okay with the other flaws that I’ve mentioned, then this will make for one hell of a ride.

Similar Authors
Rae Mariz (The Unidentified)

Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - Very cool, very cool. And the finished copy is this shimmery green color.

Random House / Sept. 28, 2010 / Hardcover / 368pp. / $17.99

Review copy sent by publisher; read for Cybils. Thanks, Random House!


  1. I'm a techie and love books with this premise. Thanks for shining the light on this one for me.

  2. I really like the cover and the whole idea of the book sounds great. Thanks for the review!

  3. Thanks for posting your review,
    I also like the cover !

  4. I thought this book had potential based on the jacket copy but reading this makes me wonder if I'll really like it. Maybe I'll give it a try one day when I'm in a tech state of mind.

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  7. I don't see too many books out there like what you're describing. Very rarely do I stumble upon books that have to do with cyberspace, so it might be an interesting read to pick up. Just for the curiosity factor alone. I do like fleshed out characters so I may not enjoy it as much, but like with FIRELIGHT by Sophie Jordan, although I didn't love and connect with story, I liked it more for its world building and setting.

    Happy blogging and have fun reading!

    Asher K. (Paranormal Indulgence)

  8. I found this book to be entertaining and interesting. But, I have a few freshman boys who have devoured it. That's what matters to me!


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