Beth's Reviews > Brain Jack

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner
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Jan 01, 2011

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Compelling theme but slightly awkward execution. That's how I'd summarize this one. The premise is clever, if a bit overt in the wish-fulfillment department at some points, and a few plot twists are genuinely unexpected. But the writing is too abrupt and the transitions are too choppy (usually when the author incorporates technical explanations), so the story doesn't flow well. The introduction and the epilogue are a little too cutesy. And the main thrust of the plot - going up against a massive collective consciousness - is weakened when the protagonist actually meets that consciousness. Because there are no words, it seems, to describe how terrifying and all-encompassing that would actually be. And therefore the antagonist's strength is lessened, which cripples the thrust of the story.

There's also a show-don't-tell problem. The protagonist never feels like a brilliant teenager; he feels too normal to be believed. He's also too calm in the face of catastrophe, which lessens the impact of the catastrophe.

This book is clever, but limited by two things: the ineffectiveness of the words - their lack of emotional heft - and the almost simplicity and ease of the final conflict. Somehow, though, despite the shortcomings, it is still an enjoyable read. Just not a fascinating one.
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Noah I agree that Sam always seems like a regular teenager that is almost too brave in the heat of the adventure. He seems to accept the action as if it was expected. I also feel that along with the ineffectiveness of Falkner's words, he uses confusing ways to describe things such as Sam when he is hacking into the White House. Falkner makes it seem as if even without the neural headsets, hacking is a completely immersive experience. I also felt that, as you said, the final battle lacked any challenge, Falkner built up the story a lot with the trip to Las Vegas to avoid the neural headset people and then quickly tried to finish the book with a lack of development or in depth resolution. The ending was almost saying that everything went back to normal.

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