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The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 (The Softwire #1)

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,075 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull has always known there was something different about him. It turns out he’s the first-ever human softwire —- able to enter and communicate with computers with his mind. Now that JT and two hundred other orphans have been put to work in alien factories on the first ring of Orbis, things are going very wrong. The "perfect" central computer i ...more
Kindle Edition, 262 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Candlewick (first published August 22nd 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Denae Christine
Apr 06, 2016 Denae Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
It was amazing except for a few things that were left out. Kids wouldn't look for them, wouldn't need them, but I felt there wasn't enough detail about the rings and Orbis 1. Half the time, even when JT was awake, it felt like he was dreaming because there didn't always seem to quite be enough concrete objects to identify with and anchor me to the setting. Just IMHO.
I loved the way his abilities were defined and how they grew. I liked how something new was always being revealed, and I liked how
Jaime the Wizzard
I’m going to be completely honest with y’all: the only reason I downloaded and read this book is because Nathan Fillion tweeted about it. If I can’t trust Captain Tightpants to recommend good books who can I trust?

Anyways, this book was really engaging right from the get-go. If you’ve ever played a board game called ‘Starfarers of Catan’ then some of the back-story may look a little familiar (it did to me anyways) but that made it more enjoyable for me. We start off on a ship with 200+ kids run
Jul 10, 2012 Barbara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My ten year old son is reading this aloud to me...our Summer Reading Program. Really enjoying it so far!

Alas, when we finished, I almost felt relieved because my son wasn't as into the story as we both we originally.

Overall, I thought the descriptions left much to be son asked me many times, "So, what do you think so-an-son looks like?" And I could only reread the brief description provided for each alien and say, "try to picture it in your own mind"...that is what is so great abou
Apr 14, 2012 Vicki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Welp, this was interesting.

I mean, it's not high science-fiction by any stretch of the imagination: the characters are wooden, the plot feels contrived in some places, and overall it's just not an exciting novel to read at all. I found myself skimming over some parts (especially the dreams) and wondering why they had to be so long when they were barely relevant.

Mind you, I'm hardly the target audience.

No matter who you are, I wouldn't recommend this book: it's not atrocious, but there are bet
It is wonderful to see hard sci-fi being written for children again. It is something that is seen to rarely these days. This book is interesting and competently done, and I would recommend it to children in grade 4-7.

However, as a caveat to that, it is certainly a flawed book. First it wears its influences on its sleeves, though children won't know that. Plus a major plot twist at the end comes out of nowhere. It's the kind of thing that really needed foreshadowing to be satisfying, and that rea
Mar 18, 2011 Wendy rated it it was ok
I got this as a free download on Free is good, and free in YA/sci-fi seemed like a great find to me. But I'm actually surprised by all the good reviews this is getting. I found it to be just passable. The story had promise, but it just didn't deliver.

Here's the deal: JT and 200 other kids have traveled to Orbis 1 on a ship that looked after them after all their parents died. (The kids never knew their parents, btw, they were all sort-of hatched on the ship after an accident.) Upon their
I thought the book was really good. It made me want to read more and I ended up reading more than 30 minutes to finish the book. I liked the ending and how the book came together to make a very cool story. I also thought it was cool that Johnny Turnbull is a softwire. He is the first of the human race so that means he evolved. I thought it was cool that his sister ended up having telepathy which meant she is also one of the first humans to evolve.
Jennifer Patterson
Mar 27, 2012 Jennifer Patterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10+
Shelves: ya
I’ll admit that my speed reading days for books left me in college. Even with my fun books that I read, it can take me a several days to finish one. So when I went through the Softwire Series in roughly a week, you know it’s got to be amazing! Oddly enough, I have to thank Nathon Filion for tweeting a link for a free digital copy of the first book (Virus on Orbis 1).

The brief synopsis from P.J. Haarsma’s site really hooked me in too.

Thirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull has always known there was so
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

I'm the first to admit that science fiction has never been my favorite genre, but I wanted to give VIRUS ON ORBIS 1 a try. I have to say that I'm very glad I did. Besides having an interesting and entertaining story, the true beauty of the book, at least for me, is the fact that I never felt so overwhelmed with the new world the author created that I wanted to give up. There weren't a thousand crazy names I had to figure out how to pronounce, or a million-and-o
Aug 17, 2015 Jex rated it really liked it
A group of kids, raised on a spaceship by a computer program, have finally reached their new home of Orbis 1 only to find out that their destiny is to be enslaved in order to pay off their parents’ debt. While trying to make the most of the life that’s been thrown at them, JT comes to find that he has a special gift that is not only rare to anyone, but has never before been seen in a human. JT is a softwire. He can communicate with machines in a way that no one else can: by physically up-linking ...more
Alexis DeSousa
I have to say that this book had me from the start! It was really an enjoyable read, one that I wish I had been able to come across as a teen reader. And what’s also awesome about it? It’s FREE on Kindle (click the image to get there).

So, The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 is a sci-fi novel, that, although it is considered a young adult novel, appeals to all ages. I really found the characters highly relatable and very interesting. As soon as I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down.

The novel centers
Apr 04, 2011 Natasha rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans who want a quick read to add to their imagination
This wasn't a bad read at all. It was one of the books I listened to on my Kindle on my way to and fro from Nashville to Atlanta. It had a good premise, fairly gripping from the beginning, and had a lot of things that you remembered in passing and had a HUGE part in the story towards the end. That was more of a con since I was listening to my Kindle read it, but I don't think it's a big deal if you're ACTUALLY reading it.

Johnny is a great character, but Ketheria was my favorite. I might just hav
Heather Pearson
May 30, 2011 Heather Pearson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in the Softwire series. It is a YA series written by Canadian author PJ Haarsma. I found it as a free download on Kobo a few days after I bought my BlackBerry Playbook.

It is the story of a group of children who are travelling on a generational ship (travelling for hundreds of years) and for some un-explained reason, all the parents are dead. They have mostly been raised and educated by the computer systems on the ship. The voyage ends and the children are landed on the fir
Sep 12, 2010 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Virus on Orbis 1 is the start to a four-part series entitled, The Softwire.

Thirteen-year-old Johnny has spent all of his life living on a spaceship in route to the rings of Orbis. His parents (as well as all of the other parents on board) where to complete 4 years of work on the rings of Orbis with the hope of eventually becoming citizens. However, there was an error on the ship and all of the adults died in the hibernation pods. The ship continued to pilot itself there, even somehow "hatching"
Jul 10, 2010 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thirteen-year-old Johnny Turnbull and two hundred other human kids land on the first ring of Orbis, in a sleeper ship where all the adults have died. But once their spaceship lands, he is identified as the first-ever "softwire" — a human with the ability to enter and communicate with computers through his mind — and becomes the focus of intergalactic intrigue. Johnny and the rest of the refugee orphans are put to work in alien factories to pay off the cost of passage to Orbis, and very quickly t ...more
Jul 12, 2011 Lani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids, scifi, kindle
I picked this up for free (or possibly just a couple bucks) on the Twitter recommendation of Nathan Fillion. Not half bad for a random free book from Amazon.

This felt kind of like a poor man's Ender's Game, but it was enjoyable. A ship full of children make it to their final destination after their parents' cryo chambers failed. Sold as slaves to residents of their new home, they stumble across a computer virus that could mean the end of their world.

The main character, JT, is a 'softwire', someo
Greg McClay
Nov 03, 2015 Greg McClay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First I confess the reason I read this was because Nathan Fillion was holding it in his ALA READ poster which is a level of fanboy I would generally prefer to avoid.

That said the book was terrific and I look forward to reading the rest. Its not often I would prefer a book to be longer but the potential in the setting and plot is limitless. My absolute favorite thing about the book is the idea of the indentured servant. The kids are in a challenging and difficult situation but there's a light at
After Ender's Game opened me up to science fiction set in outer space, I gave The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 a try and found another enjoyable read that I can recommend to my middle-school students.

This is the first book in a four-book series (something I did not know when I downloaded it to me kindle--for free!), but the ending did feel satisfying, even without reading on. Both qualities (part of a series series and satisfying conclusion) are definite pluses in my opinion. Also, Haarsma did a g
Mar 23, 2011 Dailycheapreads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read The Softwire because I got it free on my Kindle and wanted to see what our junior edition customers might be reading.

The Softwire was a very interesting book that I enjoyed reading. The story is about J.T. Turnbull, who was born on a spaceship with many other children, after all their parents died because of a malfunction on the ship.

They are traveling to the Rings of Orbis, the planet where their parents had promised to work. When they get to Orbis, the orphans find out not everyone is p
Jan 12, 2014 Jasperm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book The Softwire: Virus on orbis 1 by PJ Haarsma is set in the future when over population it becoming a problem on earth. Because of this people are taking space ships and are traveling to other planets. It the main character, Jonny Turnbull's case her is going to the first ring of Orbis. The rings of orbis were man made things that go around a worm hole. These rings were built by the "ancients" and the people call them so they could harvest Crystal from its 2 moons. Along with the rings, ...more
Feb 02, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, ya, childrens
As a caveat, I only picked this book up because I had been reading too many girl-oriented juvenile and YA books, and I just wanted at decent "boy book" to read, and I knew that this one probably wouldn't be great, but I just couldn't pass up a book with a comment from Nathan Fillion on it! If you're not the type to have a nerd crush on him from Firefly, then you would probably have an I <3 Castle crush on him.

This book was good, but by all means not great. I think that it is a good book parti
The Renaissance is a shipped bound for Orbis with a load of children. Originally there were adults on board who were contracted to work on the rings of Orbis for four years with the deal that they would gain citizenship afterwards. Also on that ship were 200 embryos but somehow the adults died and the children were raised by the AI of the ship simply referred to as "Mother." What separates JT from the rest of the children is 1) he is one of the few who has a sibling, and 2) he is the only child ...more
Feb 03, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Shelves: favorites, kids-lit
The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 is a fantastic sci-fi book for all ages. Excellent for reluctant readers!
Johnny Turnbull, aka JT, and his little sister Ketheria never knew their parents. Years before they were born, their parents agreed to leave Earth to make a long trip through space to work on the far-off rings of Orbis. After a malfunction killed all of the adults on the ship, the computer raised the embryos that the adults had brought on board. When these children, no older than twelve, arriv
Karolinde (Kari)
If I could, I would have given this book 3 1/2 stars. It is a very fun sci-fi story.

JT, his sister, friends, and enemies were born and live on a ship they call mother. Their destination is Orbis 1, were their now dead parents were going as indentured servants. The children find themselves placed in servitude with no real hope of escape. JT, it turns out, is a softwire and has the ability to communicate with and manipulate computers with his mind. The problem is that as soon as he arrives, the c
Larry Wentzel
A decent YA sci fi story on par with the Percy Jackson series. Young teen discovers he's different from everyone else, is cast into new circumstances that dazzle and confound, and then finds himself mired in saving the world intrigues. Change our world with old gods to space with aliens and computers, and you've got a series on par with the old serial sci fi series, without so much hard science.

It's a good, quick read with interesting backgrounds. The sci fi of it is squishy, soft science that t
Shannon Mawhiney
Mar 11, 2011 Shannon Mawhiney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 is a great Young Adult science fiction novel. I'm an adult, but I could barely put my Kindle down while reading it. If anyone is looking for a book that their kids will enjoy, or anyone looking for accessible sci-fi, I definitely recommend this one.

This first book of a four-book series centers on Johnny Turnbull, or JT, one of over 200 orphan children brought to Orbis from Earth. They have never known Earth or their parents, having been born on their seed ship after t
Matthew Collins
Nov 12, 2014 Matthew Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book. I have been looking for a good series to start and I have to read YA books for a YA lit class I am taking so I picked this one up (apparently I need to give more YA books a chance) and loved it. I won't bother summarizing it since that happens in the book description so I will just get to the point. The characters in this book are real and relate-able. The plot is good and unique and has plenty of turns in it to keep you guessing. Some of it is easy to guess but that doesn't c ...more
I must confess that I picked this one up simply because one of my favorite celebrities, Nathan Fillion, recommended it over twitter to everyone that followed him. While I had been aware of the series for a while due to the game associated with it (The Rings of Orbis) I had not endeavored to read it until now.

This is the first book of four, each book taking place on a different Ring of Orbis.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this story rooted solidly in sci-fi. There are so few YA books out the
Mar 19, 2014 Jared rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The book that I have read is called " Virus On Orbis 1" by PJ Haarsma. This book is full of mystery and adventure. This could entertain all types of readers. This book has a few different ones. It has 6 more books in its series. I am going to continue reading all the series over the summer!

The book is about a boy named Johnny Turnbull that arrives on this planet called Orbis 1. He soon discovers he is the first human Softwire. He has the ability to get into any computer he wants with just his
Sep 09, 2016 Galadriel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this series! Had to read it for Battle of the Books, and enjoyed it so much I read the rest of the series! P.J. Haarsma mixes the perfect amount of adventure, mystery, and action all into one book! I would reccomend for readers 9 and up.
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2016 Reading Chal...: Softwire Virus on Orbis 1 1 10 Jul 18, 2015 07:37AM  
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A lot about The Softwire comes from my own experiences growing up. No, I never traveled on a seed-ship to Orbis but I did feel like I was a slave working in my parents ceramic factory as a teenager. In the summer I would slug 50lbs+ molds around while standing in a room with kilns firing at 1400 degrees. It wasn't fun and at the time I really resented my parents for it. I felt used and not in cont ...more
More about P.J. Haarsma...

Other Books in the Series

The Softwire (4 books)
  • The Softwire: Betrayal on Orbis 2
  • The Softwire: Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3
  • The Softwire: Awakening on Orbis 4

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