Hello everyone! I decided to space out the end of the year/beginning of the year kind of post with some reviews, especially because for the end of the month each team judging for SPSFC has to nominate their quarterfinalist so… I think it’s the right time to write some long overdue reviews!
Title: The Astral Hacker
Series: Cryptopunk Revolution #1
Author: Brian Terenna
Publication Date: March 24, 2021
In 2120, New America is the world leader in technology and individual freedom. Why, then, has seventeen-year-old Fae Luna felt like an isolated prisoner her entire life?
She survived the worst of the foster care system by honing her skills as a top-level hacker and thanks to the support of her humanoid robot, Sunny, who is illegally upgraded to a human-level AI.
Finally, she’s matched with a foster mom who treats her kindly. Fae slowly lets her guard down until a suspicious tragedy tears them apart. With no flesh-and-blood friends, she is forced to call Blaze, a guild-mate from her online holo-game, who introduces her to a motley crew of rebels and loyalists. When they dig into Fae’s mystery, they discover a far-reaching and deadly conspiracy.
Fae promised her dying mother she would never alter her body with a brain implant, but with the Evo, her hacking skills would be unbeatable. Lethal battles and devastating consequences will challenge her vow.
Will Fae choose the enhancement or trust her own exceptional mind to defeat a secretive and powerful force threatening all New Americans?
With this book I had a lot of highs and lows, and even if it wasn’t really a bad book, I am not really convinced that it is a good book, either.
The beginning is solid, we have an interesting MC, Fae is a girl with some amazing abilities (she is a phenomenal hacker) and she has a mission. Since she was in the system and she was not lucky at all (she had a pretty shitty childhood!) she is determined to do her best to make a better system than the existing one. And this is commendable for sure. And even if it seems like an almost impossible goal, I think that she has pretty good possibilities. Maybe not to resolve the situation as a whole, but to better it? Sure! And she has a great companion, Sunny, who is a robot and who is amazing. He (I can’t really call him it, because even if he is a robot, he has personality and he has decisional powers, I am not 100% sure about self-awareness, but I think he hast it, too!) adds some levity to the story, and some sweet moments too. Anyway, we have two interesting characters, and things started pretty well. But then… things happen (or better, shit happens because really, she is not a lucky girl, at all!) and she soon finds herself at the center of an end-of-the-world-as-known situation and… here my problems start, mostly.
She finds herself with the resistance to the actual government and to the corporation that wants to take control of everyone and everything (it is an oversimplified version for the sake of the review, but the details are quite good, so if you are curious, you should check this book out, the idea is okay!), and there is a particular thing that I loved here, and it’s the fact that she is not so eager to just fight. She is an amazing hacker, but she has not great physical prowess (sure, as the story progresses she gets better, and she learns to use firearms, but this is beside the point) and she prefers to stay “safe” and do her thing from a distance. She does not want to be the first into the fight, she would love to not see the fight at all! And she is the one that tries at least to slow down the other that wants to just get done with it and embrace the arms. And this is a thing that we do not see often in YA. But that we should see, because it made sense! I mean, she doesn’t crave to be killed and it makes sense, right? She is an amazing hacker, but she does not want to take all the responsibilities on her shoulder, and she does not want to take part in fights. And she is not so impulsive and rushes: she wants to plan before attacking and doing things. This was a huge plus thing, but then we have some huge bad things too.
One of the biggest “no” for me was that a lot of the characters are the worst possible choices. There are a ton of them that you just can’t really take seriously because… come on! Religious fanatics? Anarchists? And more. I just can’t. And I am serious, the resistance is made up of people that it’s pretty hard to take seriously. You can have one or two, but not entire groups of people that are just loonies. And they all are presented like a united and expert group, a tremendously well-oiled machine. But… no! Sure, the author tells us this, but then shows us the opposite. It stands to reason that you can have divisions in it, because sure, it makes sense, but they are just a bunch of people who do not really know what they are doing. They are like groups, different and with different objectives, that works together most often than not but… it’s not a great strategy and when things get awry, as it’s only logic, all are quite surprised by it. And nope, this makes no sense at all.
Also, this is a strange book in a lot of different ways (as I was saying, unique MC, unlikely secondary characters, etc…) and then there is the fact that this book is YA, it has strong YA vibes, it has Ya characters, YA thematic and all but it also has quite graphic torture scenes. Why???
All in all, it’s not so bad, and it was a fast and engaging book, sure, maybe a better editing job would have helped a bit, but it wasn’t bad, and I was quite interested in the story.
There are things that I appreciated a lot, and I am still happy with the reading as a whole, even if I am not really satisfied with it, and I won’t continue the series. Some ideas are not bad at all, and the world-building was interesting but there were also a lot of things that just get eye-rolls out of me so… Okay, but nothing special, sadly, even if I think that the possibilities are there!
And what about you? Have you heard about this book? What do you think?? Let me know!!
4 thoughts on “SPSFC REVIEW: THE ASTRAL HACKER OR A REALLY STRANGE BUNCH OF CHARACTERS…”
It sounds like a mixed bag, but I do think I would also like Fae😁
LikeLiked by 1 person
I guess it was a mixed bag, but all in all I think it was more a yes than a no, and Fae is an interesting character for sure!
Yikes, it does sound messy with a lot of things that leave you standing there, scratching the top of your head. I too find it rough to get through books with characters that make very odd and senseless decisions. I don’t know how to accept and enjoy the rest of the show knowing certain things hahah Great review, Susy!