Brian Falkner won the Julius Vogel Award for Young Adult Science Fiction with his novel Brainjack.
This action-packed page-turner is set in the USA, sometime in the future, after Las Vegas has been destroyed in a terrorist attack. Helicopters patrol the skies over New York City. Online gaming is the most dangerous - often fatal - drug around. In this dystopic near-future, neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards with access to the Internet at the speed of thought.
Teen hacker Sam Wilson covets a headset and acquires one for himself and his friend through hacking a huge corporation and placing an order. He is not quite as clever as he thinks and his hacking of the world’s largest telecommunications company has him nabbed by the cyber-defence network, which recruits him.
As he becomes more familiar with the neuro-headsets, he realises the obvious, terrifying truth: if all computers are vulnerable to hacking, what happens when one’s mind is linked to the system? Could it too be hijacked? Of course the answer is yes. With almost the entire cyber-defense team hooked up, how is Sam to stay alive to free his hijacked colleagues who are doing their best to kill him?
This thriller asks serious questions about where technology can lead and about the power of artificial intelligence. It convincingly describes the dangers of a society utterly dependent on interconnected computers.
Reviewed by Anneke a Campo.
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