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Does Tucker Pierce have what it takes to be a hero when the U.S. military quarantines his island?

Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.

It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world—and all before tomorrow is too late. 

#1 New York Times bestselling author D.J. MacHale brings his brilliant plotting and breathless pacing to SYLO, the first in this ultimate end-of-the-world adventure trilogy.

407 pages, Hardcover

First published July 2, 2013

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About the author

D.J. MacHale

69 books2,165 followers
D.J. MacHale is a writer, director, executive producer and creator of several popular television series and movies.

He was raised in Greenwich, CT and graduated from Greenwich High School. While in school, he had several jobs including collecting eggs at a poultry farm, engraving sports trophies and washing dishes in a steakhouse...in between playing football and running track. D.J. then attended New York University where he received a BFA in film production.

His filmmaking career began in New York where he worked as a freelance writer/director, making corporate videos and television commercials. He also taught photography and film production.

D.J. broke into the entertainment business by writing several ABC Afterschool Specials. After moving to Los Angeles, he made the fulltime switch from informational films, to entertainment. As co-creator of the popular Nickelodeon series: Are You Afraid of the Dark?, he produced all 91 episodes over 8 years. He wrote and directed many of the episodes including the CableAce nominated The Tale of Cutter's Treasure starring Charles S. Dutton. He was nominated for a Gemini award for directing The Tale of the Dangerous Soup starring Neve Campbell.

D.J. also wrote and directed the movie Tower of Terror for ABC's Wonderful World of Disney which starred Kirsten Dunst and Steve Guttenberg. The Showtime series Chris Cross was co-created, written and produced by D.J. It received the CableAce award for Best Youth Series.

D.J. co-created and produced the Discovery Kids series Flight 29 Down for which he writes all the episodes and directs several. His work on Flight 29 Down has earned him both Writers Guild of America and Directors Guild of America award nominations.

Other notable writing credits include the classic ABC Afterschool Special titled Seasonal Differences; the pilot for the long-running PBS/CBS series Ghostwriter; and the HBO series Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective for which he received a CableAce nomination for writing.

In print, D.J. has co-written the book The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors, based on his own teleplay and penned the poetic adaptation of the classic Norwegian folk tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

The book series: Pendragon - Journal of an Adventure through Time and Space marks D.J.'s first turn as a novelist. He plans for this series of Young Adult adventures to span a total of 10 books.

D.J. lives in Southern California with his wife Evangeline and daughter Keaton. They are avid backpackers, scuba divers and skiers. Rounding out the household are a Golden Retriever, Maggie; and a Kitten, Kaboodle.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 724 reviews
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,208 followers
September 8, 2018
description

4 SOLID STARS!

SYLO by D.J. MacHale
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: July 2nd 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the author


As I always I get to judge the cover...but this time complimenting it.I really like the cover,especially the missiles at the top,so awesome:)



description

SYLO/ is the first book in The SYLO Chronicles.It is a full action-pack adventure dystopian somehow novel with some pretty kick-ass characters and suspense moments.From what I could get,this is a middle grade action book,but I don't think there's an age limit for this one,it is awesome,believe me.



description

The beginning was kind of slow,and to be honest I had a hard time getting into the book at first,couldn't connect to the story and characters,but after that everything just got better and better,and there's the ending which was clearly the best part and I am really excited about the sequel.



description

The characters,even that are young,are pretty bad-ass characters.And I did enjoy how the author has described or created female characters here.Almost every girl in this book is hot,and I am very thankful about that,because I missed a book like this,with islands,summer,hot bikini girls.



description

The story follows a boy,Tucker Pierce,who lives in an island called Pemberwick.Everything starts to change when a murder happens,and SYLO quarantines the island because of the drug called Ruby.Now Tucker and his friends try to find out who's behind all this mystery.



description

I highly recommend this action pack book to all the readers out there.I really enjoyed it and I hope you do too:)

Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,520 reviews33.8k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
June 6, 2013
DNF around 50 pages. There might've been an entertaining story in here, but the writing style is too much like an adult/parent relaying to another adult how a teenager might behave, rather than feeling like a 14-year-old's natural language, observations, and actions. This doesn't mean the main character is more witty or intelligent than average, btw, we are actually told this on page 10:

I, on the other hand, was more of the "blending in" type. I stood a good head shorter than Quinn and kept my brown hair cut short. I wouldn't consider myself particularly brainy, though I weighed in with a solid B-minus average in school. Not bad, in my book. Unfortunately, my parents had a different book. I was tired of hearing, "Tucker Pierce, you are not living up to your potential." How did they know what my potential was? How could anybody know?

Which leads me into the other issue: there is a lot more telling than showing in this writing style. Combine all this with my sneak peek at the end to see if I guessed right about the big secret (spoiler alert: I did. And you probably will, too) and I just don't have any interest in reading further.

But obviously this will have its share of fans; mostly, I'm guessing, in the younger end of the YA age spectrum.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,360 followers
June 25, 2013
Almost a 4 star, SYLO starts off as your run of the mill YA sci-fi mystery but it ends up being much more complex than expected. I did really enjoy it, but I found that 1) we didn't get enough answers even for a first book in a series and 2) it could have done with 50 or so less pages - which is likely linked to 1).

A strong aspect of this novel is how the beginning chapters really pull you into the story. Being engaged from the start is a wanted feat that is not often achieved. MacHale does this by getting right into the sudden deaths happening on Tucker's island. He then keeps it up by introducing small chapter cliffhangers every so often throughout the book, which I'm personally a sucker for. Barring that, however, I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style. Some of it simply felt off for supposedly being the voice of a 14 year old. And some of it felt cliché; for instance, the frequent use of "suspenseful" sentences like:

""Thirty yards!" Kent called out.
...as the machine gun behind us opened fire.
We were about to cross the stern of the flaming destroyer when...
"Now!" Tori called."


"I eased the wheel to port, made the gentle turn and...
...my moment of peace instantly vanished."


I know this critique is more of a personal preference but there were a lot of these suspension points throughout that I found cheesy. Another small quirk is how, during normal conversations, a character was said to "scream" or "shout". Either the author was hoping for a heightened tone effect, or these islanders are really freaking intense (and loud)!

"I think we're making a big mistake." Quinn said.
"Seriously?" I shouted. "Now you're having second thoughts?"

-Sounds like a shouting match, don't it? (It's not.)

Our male protagonist, Tucker, is your average teenager who likes his simple island living, so when it gets quarantined and people start dying, he gets a little restless. Tucker is an average character; he's not someone who's especially memorable long term, but I didn't dislike him. Same goes for the secondary characters. While most were charismatic, I didn't get emotionally attached to them - which is proven by my lack of reaction when one of them dies. I did grow the most connected to Tori, one of the main secondary characters. I loved that she's a tough girl who's able to fend for herself; her intelligence, strength, and bravery shine through.

The plot itself is what's truly entertaining in SYLO, and does make up for the aforementioned qualms, some. There is a ton of mystery from the get go, the sudden deaths being the first of many. There are unexplained aircraft hovering about - one of which explodes right in from of Tucker, never to appear in the news. Bizarre drugs that turn people into temporary supermen. Then there's how insanely far the military is going to make sure no one leaves escapes. With this abundance of secrets on this island, it's unfortunate that we become privy to very few answers by the end, though. I wish we'd gotten further into the bottom of it all; we barely scratched the surface. For that reason, I think the book could have been shortened 50 pages or so to stop the non-answers from dragging at times - it was not excessively so, but it did feel lengthy. At least the ending does show us how deep this bottom goes, and I really liked where the author went with it.

SYLO is what I would consider a boy book; a male protagonist, a lot of football talk, missiles, explosions, plenty of death, fighter planes, warships, and a kick-ass climactic battle at sea. Everything a boy-book loving girl like myself could ask for!

--
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Matt.
295 reviews3 followers
September 14, 2013
I...can't. I felt like I was reading a bad middle-grade novel.
Profile Image for Lexie Robinson Austin.
116 reviews13 followers
June 13, 2013
This review is of the Advanced Readers Copy of SYLO by D.J. MacHale, due in stores on July 2, 2013.

Bad news D.J. MacHale fans. SYLO is a stinker. BIG TIME.
Let me preface this that I’ve read a few of his Pendragon books, and while they weren’t exactly my cup of tea, I could still enjoy them and recommend them to my young library patrons. I will not be recommending SYLO to anyone. In my opinion, MacHale has never been a strong writer, but his action packed plot lines and likeable characters made up for it in the Pendragon series. SYLO has neither of these.

Summary: In SYLO MacHale is trying to cash in on the post-apocalyptic/military over control trend we’re seeing a lot in YA Fiction these days. SYLO is the story of Tucker Pierce, an average 14 year old who enjoys playing on his High School football team, loves his hometown of Pemberwick Island, and takes regular bike rides around the island with his best bud, Quinn. During one of these bike rides, he happens to see an explosion out over the ocean. The next week his island is invaded by the US Navy and put on lock down due to a virus. Meanwhile there’s this shady Feit character running around and feeding everyone this super drug called Ruby.

SYLO’s Fatal Flaws:
• Characters- Tucker is an okay guy. There’s nothing super likeable about him, but you don’t hate him. Unfortunately, he’s the most likeable character out of the cast. Tucker’s crush, Tori Sleeper, is supposedly this mysterious enigmatic girl that Tucker finds fascinating. Honestly? She just seems emotional stunted and grumpy. There’s nothing attractive about her personality or her interactions with Tucker and other characters. Some of the other characters, like Kent are just jerks. Olivia, a hot girl that Tucker’s been on a few dates with seems a little flaky. You’re never really sure where her head is at. Tucker’s parents are also flawed. You’re never quite sure what they’re deal is. I think MacHale was trying to create an air of mystery around them, but instead you have two flat characters that are either crying or asking Tucker what he thinks about everything. They just got kind of annoying. Probably the strongest character in the whole book is Quinn, Tucker’s BFF. He had a few funny moments, but I didn’t like where MacHale took his plot line.
• Pacing- The pacing is all over the place in this book. Things are either happening at light speed or at a snail’s pace. And the slow parts are SLOW. If this hadn’t been an Advanced Reader’s Copy I probably would have dropped it because of the slow parts.
• Plot- So the plot is that this island is taken over by this mysterious military force called SYLO. And there are all kinds of questions. My biggest issue with the book is that NONE OF THE QUESTIONS EVER GET ANSWERED. You just spend the whole story running around the island with the characters creating more questions. And nothing makes sense. In other books, this could be intriguing and serve as a motivation to read the upcoming sequel. However in this book it just got annoying.

If you’re a super big D.J. MacHale fan, you might want to pick this up and give it a try. However, for the other average readers out there I’d suggest giving it a pass. There are much more interesting and well written books available in this genre.

You can read more reviews like this at: http://www.pageturnersblog.com/
503 reviews142 followers
June 16, 2014
First Look:  I wanted to read this because D.J. MacHale wrote it.  He wrote the Pendragon series, which is one of my all-time favorites, and Morpheus Road, which I really enjoyed, so I'll read whatever he puts out, at this point.  Because of that, I had high expectations--probably unreasonably high.  If D.J. MacHale wasn't the author, I would have bypassed this one.  The premise is all too familiar, and a dystopian/sci-fi novel like this has to have a very unique premise before I'll pick it up.

Setting:  
If Pemberwick, Maine was a real place (I checked, and it's not), I would be willing to move in.  It's small, quaint, somewhat isolated, and by the ocean.  What more could you want?  MacHale does an excellent job of getting you to care about it through Tucker's love of the place.  It maybe have been a bit heavy-handed, but it then leads you to care when the quaintness of it is threatened.  This is one book where the setting truly shaped the story, and I appreciate that.  It was more than just a backdrop.  

Characters:  
For the most part, Tucker is a three-dimensional and dynamic character.  At times, he could be a bit frustrating.  For example, why did he keep going after Olivia when it was clear she only went for whatever guy happened to be the best at football at any particular moment?  Yes, she's pretty, but she's obviously shallow, so why bother?  Apart from that, I liked him.  He's resourceful, determined, and genuine.  I just wish his personality had been even more distinct, especially since I know MacHale is capable of incredibly real-seeming characters.

His best friend, Quinn, made little impression on me.  His personality is much less defined, which makes him a mostly flat character.  Tori, another side character, was far more interesting.  She may have had even more personality than Tucker, and I'm eager to see how she develops in future books.    

Plot:  I have mixed feelings about the plot.  It took a long time to get moving--before that, it was slow and filled with too much football.  Here's the thing with extended descriptions of football games: as soon as you start talking about yard lines and fumbles and whatever else, you've lost me.  You've lost me even faster than you would if you started talking about cars.  To some extent, the games were important to the plot, but it didn't need to take up so much of the book.  Less football, more sci-fi weirdness and actual action, please.

After things started happening, though, the plot got interesting.  It moved along at a quick pace, and left me with so many questions that I didn't want to stop reading.  It may lack some originality, but I was still interested and invested.   And, of course, the ending leaves you with more questions that it answers.

Uniqueness:  This area left the most to be desired.    We have an "average" teenage guy who sees something suspicious, a quarantine, a secret government plot.  It's not a dystopian novel, but it used many similar tropes.  It does have some unique elements that reveal themselves towards the end, but I wish it stood out more from other books overall.  

Writing:  I forgot how much MacHale loves choppy sentences and awkward phrasing.  Occasionally, I would stumble over an oddly worded passage, and sometimes it didn't flow like it should.  Still, the narration does a decent job telling the story.  For the most part, it stays out of the way, and gets you into Tucker's head.  It allows the story to take center stage, rather than the writing itself.  Tucker's voice could have been more prominent, but it didn't feel flat, either.

Likes: Nothing not already mentioned above.

Not-so-great: I kind of wanted a Pendragon reference like in Morpheus Road, but I didn't get one.  Then again, Morpheus Road lends itself better to that sort of thing.

Overall: For the most part, I enjoyed this.  It has its flaws, including a lack of originality, some awkward phrasing, and a slow beginning.  Still, it has a setting that I want to live in.  Tucker is an interesting and likable character, and I think we'll see him grow even more in the next book.  As side characters go, Quinn is too flat for my liking, but Tori had a distinct personality.  It moves along quickly, with plot twists that keep you guessing.  It's a 3.5 star book, but I'll round it up, and I'll most likely check out the sequel to see where the story goes from here.



Similar Books: It's a science fiction novel with dystopian overtones like The Lost Code and Variant.  It also reminds me of Virals.

Read more of my reviews at http://anniesepicblog.blogspot.com.


Pre-review: HOLD IT. HOLD IT RIGHT THERE.

There's a new D.J. MacHale book, and nobody told me until now?

Someone should really let me know when these things happen.

Anyway, I'm excited!



Do we get more Pendragon references this time around as well? I love D.J. MacHale's veiled and not-so-veiled Pendragon references. They simply reinforce the whole Pendragon concept of Halla.
Profile Image for Kathy Martin.
3,287 reviews72 followers
July 6, 2013
D. J. MacHale is EVIL! He has written a page-turning thriller narrated by a sympathetic main character and raised more questions than he has answered.

Tucker Pierce is a high school freshman on the island of Pemberwick, Maine. He and his family moved there after his father lost his job as a civil engineer in Greenwich, Connecticut. His dad has a gardening business and his mom is a free-lance accountant. Tucker loves the island with its tourists and beaches. His best friend Quinn can hardly wait to leave and do big things. But Tucker is content and happy to let things be just the way they are. He isn't an ambitious boy. He prefers to stay under the radar. He has a fear of failing at anything that keeps him from stretching himself.

Tucker's idyllic life is about to come crashing down on him. A death at a football game, a strange new performance enhancing drug called Ruby, and an invasion by a US Navy division called SYLO change Tucker's, Quinn's and his new crush-turned-friend Tori's lives forever. The people are told that SYLO has come to the island because of a new disease on the island. The island has been cut off from the rest of the country.

Lots of things don't add up for the kids. Why have they never heard of SYLO? How did SYLO manage to get so organized that they could bring in troops, weapons, equipment at such short notice? What are those mysterious black ships that make musical sounds when they travel? What does Mr. Feit, who is pushing Ruby, really want? Why is he running from SYLO? The kids decide that they have to escape from Pemberwick and let the rest of the country know what is happening there? However, the sea is being patrolled by Navy ships and helicopters and that won't be easy.

This is an exciting story that doesn't shirk from hard things. Characters, even important ones, die. People lie and betray. And Tucker needs to step up and take a stand. He can't just let things happen. He needs to act.

It isn't clear to Tucker, or to the reader, who the bad guys are. No character is all good or all evil. Like, Tucker, we are left with questions about what is happening. But D. J. MacHale's most evil action lies in the last three words of this story: TO BE CONTINUED...
Profile Image for Tamora Pierce.
Author 93 books82.9k followers
August 12, 2013
Suppose you'd spent most of your teenaged life on a small island off the shore of Maine, where the winters are bitterly cold and windy, and the summers are loaded with tourists and jobs spent waiting on them. You'd give anything to get off the island, wouldn't you?

The truth is, the only time under-achiever Tucker really wants to leave is when he has to stand in for the senior who's the football team's top pick. Unlike his best friend, he likes the island. He's only lived there five years, but he's in no rush to leave, unlike everyone else he knows--until the US military group called SYLO lands there, cutting off all travel, then all everything else. They say there's an epidemic, but what are the symptoms? Are they the result of the strange new drug peddled by the strange new guy around town, the symptoms that killed one of the town's most promising teenagers? How far does this epidemic spread? And how far will people here go to be safe?

It's a creepy, scary book. There is a lot more straight out action, motorcycle chases, car chases, and boat chases taking up pages than I like, since I want more conspiracy plot, but I know a lot of action readers who will be happy with the chases. And I don't get the science behind the strange black orbs, with their sparkles and music. Maybe all will be made clear in the next book!
Profile Image for Karen’s Library.
1,038 reviews155 followers
May 22, 2018
Once this book took off and you got to the action, it was really intriguing and definitely kept me engaged. The very last portion of the book had me biting my nails and was very action packed! This does end on a cliffhanger with still no idea what's happening. I gave up trying to guess because all my theories pretty much went up in flames.

Thank goodness I have the entire series so I can keep right on reading and find out what the heck is going on!
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 6 books2,015 followers
February 12, 2018
I was pleasantly surprised to find this didn't suffer from the YA book club syndrome of kids that were smarter than all the adults. It was a little repetitive & angsty, but that's typical of teenagers. An important character even dies (Maybe. I hope so. Cheap trick if not.)

There's a great build up of clues as to what is going on & we find out most at the end. It's kind of a cliff-hanger, which I detest, but it's also pretty obvious this is a trilogy going in. The first major hurdle is achieved.

I really liked the thread about differing opinions between the kids & their parents. Even the secrecy, which seems over done at first, is making sense, so I'm giving this 4 stars. It's really a 3.5 at best, but I want to read the next 2 books, so it deserves the benefit of the doubt.
1 review1 follower
June 27, 2013

I’ve read many of DJ’s books, especially since ten of them are Pendragon novels, and I happen to be a long time Traveler. That journey was a rollercoaster ride, the best one any book series has ever taken me on.

I read the first installment of the Morpheus Road trilogy, and I was impressed. I hardly get scared by anything, and that book kept me up at night long after I had finished it. Unfortunately, I missed the release of the last two, and I don’t frequent book stores as often as I’d like to, so I never finished the series. (I swear it wasn’t because I was too scared!)

So when I heard about SYLO, my interest was piqued. What could DJ possibly write about next? His trademark is intricate storylines and captivating journeys, and after Pendragon and Morpheus Road, I thought no other book could draw me in so easily, or have the twists and turns that I love about DJ’s style.

Boy was I wrong.

The story starts as most of DJ’s stories do. Something happens to upset the balance of a seemingly peaceful town (or universe, in some cases). But once again, DJ has found something both interesting and unnerving that makes you want to find out more about what’s happening. Without spoiling the book, I can tell you the event that sends Pemberwick Island into a downward spiral is the death of one of their star high school athletes. It’s in the first chapter, and it certainly is unsettling.

But after witnessing a strange aerial display above the island, one that ends in a powerful explosion, Tucker Pierce and his friend Quinn start to look for answers. It leads Tucker on a trail to “the Ruby,” a mysterious and potent substance that leaves more questions than answers, and as if it couldn’t get any worse, SYLO, a secret military force, invades the island.

Now at this point, it starts to get overwhelming, how everything seems completely unrelated; yet, you know they all have something in common. DJ writes you into the story, making you feel just as the characters do, making you want to solve the mystery of SYLO. It’s my favorite part about his books. They literally do take you on a journey, page by page. Once I started SYLO, I couldn’t put it down, to the point where my parents were asking me to stop reading at the dinner table.

I can’t tell you the ending – I can only say that the last chapter left me silent for at least an hour. And it isn’t the kind of ending that wraps everything up, either. This is going to be a true trilogy, and you’ll be begging for the second volume the minute you finish the first.

I’m honored that DJ let me read this in advance, and I can’t wait to see what he cooks up next!

Hobey-Ho,

Allen Alvarado

(There were italics, but this is apparently only plain text...)
Profile Image for Annette.
919 reviews26 followers
June 24, 2013
While Sylo intrigued me with an interesting premise and an exciting ending, I did have some problems with it.

Tucker lives on Pemberwick Island off the coast of Maine. It's a vacation spot, but Tucker is a full-timer. Tucker is a freshman football player who sits the bench until the star player drops dead at the end of a football game. The autopsy gives no indication of why he died.

Now Tucker is thrust into a starting situation, and there's no way he can compete. A strange man offers Tucker a supplement -- that is supposedly totally natural and safe -- to help him with his football prowess. Tucker takes the supplement one time, and although it does make him much stronger and faster, he vows never to take it again for fear it is harmful. Tucker believes this substance, called Ruby, is what killed the football player.

Tucker and his friend Quinn often take midnight bike rides around the island. On one of these rides, a mysterious dark shape appears in the sky and they hear strange music. This craft is apparently shot down right in front of them. They report the incident to the police, but nothing is ever discovered about this incident.

The island is eventually quarantined by a branch of the U. S. military called Sylo. The claim to mean no harm, but they are sealing the island because of a mysterious virus. The CDC comes to investigate. Tucker wonders if the virus is somehow related to Ruby.

The citizens aren't buying the quarantine, mostly because they have been cut off from communicating with the mainland too. They don't understand why.

Tucker, Quinn, and a girl named Tori begin to sneak around to figure out what has really happened. They witness horrible things and realize they are being lied to. MacHale isn't afraid to kill people off. I liked the characters and their interactions, but Sylo is more about the action and the plot than the characters. There's the possibility of a romantic relationship, but nothing really happens in Sylo, so male readers don't have to worry about that!

My first issue with Sylo is that it's pretty bloated. I usually don't read the blurb on the book before I start reading. But, Sylo took so long for anything to happen that after about 50 pages, I looked at the back to determine what this book is about. It's 80 pages before the island is actually quarantined. Even after the quarantine, things move very slowly until the last 150 pages when things really pick up. At over 400 pages, some of this bulk could have been cut down.

Also, there are several things that Sylo does that don't make sense. They randomly capture citizens and incarcerate and interrogate them. It's explained a bit at the end, but it didn't really satisfy me. Other things (that would be spoilers) made me think, "No way. That's just not the way it would happen." I suspect the younger teen audience that Sylo is written for would probably have less trouble than I did with the "believe-ability" aspect.

The ending is very tense and exciting. Not much is resolved -- so be prepared for a huge cliffhanger. The next book, Storm, doesn't release until March of '14, just so you know. And it's a trilogy, so you can probably expect another cliffhanger from the second book too. I think kids who are willing to make the effort will really like Sylo. I just wish it wasn't so thick -- and unnecessarily so -- because many won't even pull it off the shelf when they see the thickness of the spine.
Profile Image for Jeffrey.
888 reviews109 followers
June 16, 2013
You live on an vacation island off the coast of Maine, where some residents are all year residents and most are there for the summer. Nothing really happens.

Then, a star high school athlete who seems to be a man playing against school children dies during the best game of his career. Commandos wearing a SYLO patch on their shoulders parachute out of helicopters and land on your island and declare martial law. The President of the United States comes on television and says your island, your little idyllic island is being quarantined because of a virus. But you see no evidence of a virus. Instead, a mysterious Mr. Feit is pushing a "wonder drug" the Ruby on the island claiming it gives you super human speed and power. And, while SYLO claims to be helping the residents of the island, you see first hand them killing people trying to leave. Worse your parents seem to be collaborating with SYLO. a mysterious wedge shaped flying ship is shot down over the island. Is it Invasion of the Body Snatchers? What is happening?

Tucker Pierce, a backup halfback on a high school football team is unambitious. He likes the island, where his parents immigrated to a few years back. He has finally started to talk to Tori, a pretty girl he has been interested in for years. Now he has to replace the best athlete in his school and Feit is trying to get him to try the Ruby. His best friend Quinn, Tori and he are suspicious of SYLO. With Kent, he son of the owners of a local inn and Olivia, a beautiful vacationer on the island, each of the teens wants to know what is going on? Two will try the Ruby, one will be killed, one will lose his parents to the Ruby, and one will lose a father to SYLO and all will have to reach deep to figure out what they will do to escape SYLO. There are a bunch of surprises in this story and the last 100 pages are a real page turner.

D.J. MacHale, the popular author of the Pendragon fantasy series has pushed a lot of buttons in this first book in his new series, which starts off slow and builds momentum and suspense as the story picks up. McHale, who I met at BookExpo America 2013, says this book is geared to the 12-18 year old set, but that it was the first book of his that his 10 year old daughter read. My 10 year old daughter, a voracious reader also read it and loved it. She says it was intriguing and kept her guessing until the "big reveal" cliffhanger ending.


Its a winner.
50 reviews3 followers
July 2, 2013
Lets start with the basics. SYLO is fantastic and you should read it.

Now that that's out of the way, if you're wondering why SYLO is so great then I'd recommend you keep reading.

SYLO is a fantastic book filled with tons of action, mysteries, and shocking events. It's a great book to get reluctant readers hooked into, like Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, this book never slows down. So if you're looking for something that will absolutely captivate you until the last page, then this is the book for you.

On top of that, the characters are fantastic. These are not your typical cookie cutter YA protagonists that boldly go against the villain, wildly defeating the odds and the villain, who has had years of experience and preparation, only to be brought down by the random upstart young boy or girl. Instead SYLO is filled with a whole range of different characters. Some are incredibly smart, and yet wont be able to see the whole picture, like any normal human, thereby making a terrible mistake, costing lives. Other's are petty and scared to the point that they can't move, frozen in indecision. And finally there are others will are scared out of their minds but other factors will cause them to get the job done, not to win some great and amazing battle, but simply to survive.

On top of the above mentioned range of protagonists, there are other smaller characters (can't say who because that will give away spoilers) that readers will be shocked by their actions, leaving readers slack jawed dumbfounded, thereby adding to the shock and mystery element of SYLO.

But If you've ever read DJ MacHale's books before then you know that he loves to introduce little things alongside these shocking turn of events early on that will be important to the overall story in later books. These are the types of things that readers will barely glace at the first read but after book two and three are out, they are frantically rereading searching for these clues to see if they can see the chain of events. All in all it's a pretty impressive display of planning and literary talent.

All in all I really liked SYLO. I was engaged from the first pages, I liked the characters, and was truly shocked by some of the events that occurred in the story. I fully recommend SYLO to anyone looking for an exciting and engaging YA book, and personally I can't wait for the next book in the series, Storm.

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Profile Image for Shoshana.
619 reviews51 followers
March 5, 2013
3.5, rounded up because it got better as it went.

As has happened with DJ MacHale in the past, I was totally surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Which is not to say I LOVED it, and is definitely not to say it changed my life, but it was entertaining and, once I got into it, pretty tough to put down. (Mind you, it took until at least halfway through to be that engaging, but even before it was interesting.)



I think this will be an exciting trilogy, and I will definitely try to get my hands on the second one in the very far-away future, seeing as this first installment isn't actually published 'til like, July.

Kudos, Mr. MacHale, for being a dependably solid upper-middle/young-adult level action/mystery writer. This stuff's probably never going blockbuster, but it can be counted on to entertain and satisfy.
February 23, 2021
I love MacHale's books! I was really sad when the Pendragon series was over. He's definitely brought another great series to the table with Sylo.
I had suspicions on what would happen at the end and couldn't wait to find out if I was right or not! The cliffhanger made me look forward to the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Stella.
475 reviews205 followers
September 25, 2013
There are many words I could use to describe SYLO. I could say it was thrilling, tense, and explosive, but those would merely be good words. The best words I thought SYLO demonstrated were: "as refreshing as an ocean breeze." I am not joking. Those words were taken right out of the notes I took while I was reading the book. It is a bit of an odd description, if you were to compare it to the previous three words. Sure, the book had me holding my breaths and clenching my fist, but I'm going to tell you why it was also my perfect "Beach Read."



Firstly, in my honest opinion, I think MacHale nailed the setting for this story. This is sometimes not done very well in YA or MG because people are more focused on the plot or the characters. But the atmosphere established by the author is so important in helping readers experience the story and I am so pleased that D.J. delivered.

The setting of this book, if you don't already know is fictional Pemberwick Island in Maine. I don't know much about Maine, but I am fortunate enough to know about tiny islands. In my grade 12 year, my school's science department once again ran their one-week-trip to the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. During our stay, we worked hard and we played hard. One of the places we visited really helped me establish what Pemberwick Island really looked and felt like. I will link this review to an album from out trip right here . A special thanks to all of the people who contributed to this album; not all of these pictures are my own.







This reminded me of the Patricia 






What's for dinner?






This could be the Sleeper's house






The whales welcome you to New Brunswick!




In case anyone is interested to learn how lobsters are caught, here is Rick Mercer's attempt:


Now that we've discussed atmosphere, let's move on to the second thing you need to have in a good novel: plot. This story can be best compared to Virals by Kathy Reichs meets the TV show Haven. It's part-mystery and part-sci-fi, which I think rivals the good ol' PB & J. The plot had enough twist and turns that I was beginning to feel seasick (in a good way). Just when you think the story was headed on way, a wave comes to knock you in the opposite direction. But usually, stories start off well, but the tricky part to write when you're writing a series is the ending. Authors love to taunt you with gut-wrenching cliffhangers, so you feel compelled to read on. And most of the times, you hate them for it. MacHale was able to end it at a place that had enough resolution to the story, that almost gives the reader a sense of an ending, but left enough unanswered questions for readers to stay around. It's the desire to read on, without the urge to murder the author. Thank you for that, Mr. MacHale. My heart needed a break.



Lastly, on our tour of How to Write a Good Novel, the pawns characters. These are the things I enjoy about them:



- Tucker, our protagonist, is not a "I-Can-Do-Everything" type of main character.

- His shyness is believable, unlike many YA books where the main character is the quite, awkward girl (or boy) that no one should fall for, but somehow always does.

- Or, is he the full-of-attitude, "strong" character that we encourage female characters to be. (Please see my review of The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey for reasons why I despise characters like these.)

- It's refreshing to read about a male perspective where his main objective is to act silly and boyish. Many time, in YA, the boys are either super mysterious and sexy or is the funny, goofy, comic-relief. I like how Tucker was truly the "student you would forget you ever taught" because he appeared ordinary.



- For once the main character's best friend was the "Entrée." Quinn is smart, funny, brave and should have gotten the girl. I really liked the change in dynamic.



- Tori Sleeper was precisely the female character I want to read more in YA. She has physical strength and mental power. Her brain runs fast, wickedly fast. In fact, she has the perfect blend of Quinn and Tucker: smart, cunning, humourous, focused, and independent. You might read that list and say: "Hey Stella, what the heck? How can she be humourous and serious (focused) at the same time?" Well, Confused Reader, I can tell you from experience, people are more than just a list of synonyms. Someone fun and bubbly can be also determined, focused and committed, while the serious person can be funny, laid back and lazy. People have different sides to them which D.J. really illustrated with his characters, whether it was the "ordinary" Tucker, the "quiet" Tori or the "snobby" secondary characters. ;)



- Additionally, it was really nice to see the parents aren't forgotten in the story. Most of the time, the parents are no where to be found in YA. They are a hassle to write, and usually is an obstacle, halting the hero's adventures. They are the rational voices that keeps the adventure from happening, but in SYLO, not only did they exist, they were well-written. I really felt I got to know they them. Again, keeping the word refreshingly true.



So far, SYLO has been the best book I've read in 2013, with Saga Vol.1. being my favourite graphic novel. This book gets five sparkly stars from me!





Profile Image for Logan Mendivil.
183 reviews12 followers
December 6, 2022
The book was a good read. Sylo has an interesting plot that involves the protagonist's island being locked down by an unheard of branch of the United States military due to a mysterious virus that gets the "infected" become inhumanly fast and strong that most times leads into them dead. 🪦

Why the strong military presence to lock down the island? Why are all communications cut off if it was just an illness? Does the so called "virus" have something to do with the mysterious drug being passed around the island? You can find the answers in the book. I expect a 1000 word essay on my desk by the end of the week.

I did enjoy the book. I only deducted a star because sometimes the characters dialogue seems.. unnatural? It's hard to explain exactly how. I just didn't feel like the way teens would naturally talk. Also sometimes things seemed over-explained or repeatedly explained too much like the reader may not be bright enough to catch it the first.. second.. third.. etc. time. I know this series was written for the youth but we need to give them some credit. These points I feel can be bearable enough to still enjoy the story, however. Plus it's not the author's first book. I have 0 books published so they know their trade way better than me 😂

I did listen to this via audiobook. The narrator was good. I found his voice pretty calming actually. So 5 stars towards his reading.

I would recommend this book for most ages as long as the reader doesn't mind reading about a few deaths. Nothing too gruesome like a slasher type story. I can't recall any triggers aside from that. I am currently reading (well.. listening) to the following book in the series and I am very interested in where this adventure takes us.
Profile Image for Amanda Vieira.
9 reviews
May 25, 2013
I did not like this book. I read the advanced readers copy and I absolutely hated it. It was just horrible.

Let me explain a little, there was no set pace for this story. One minute absolutely nothing was happening then the next everything was happening. The characters would make huge discoveries right after they asked the question. Then something else would happen and the it would be back to turtle pace again. It was so annoying and confusing. Because of this horrible pace I could not keep track of what was happening in this book. It would be slow then take off like a speeding bullet!

Another thing, the characters. Terrible. They had no set personality. One minute the main character,tucker, would be the schools nobody. He was nervous to ask out Olivia. But then he was Mr. Tough Guy. And Kent was the same thing only the other way around. He was the tough guy at first then he turned into the weakling.

Honestly, there was only two good characters in this book. Tori and Quinn. And that's only because they were funny and "pushed buttons". But that's it. They were funny and they were the only character who didnt go through a drastic personality change.

I recommend not reading this book. I almost couldn't. I had to suffer through to the end.
Profile Image for Jenni Arndt.
438 reviews331 followers
July 22, 2013
It seems like I am having much more luck with some of the books I am reading lately than a lot of my fellow bloggy friends. Just like Undercurrent, I went into SYLO very wary because I had seen very middling and even some negative reviews for it. Maybe the trepidation this situation makes me go into books with is what is paying off because I had so much fun with SYLO from the very beginning.

Right off the bat we know that there is some freaky stuff going on on Pemberwick Island. This quaint little vacation island is rocked by death, strange sightings and even a shocking quarantine quite early on in the book. There was so much going on and really that’s what grabbed me and held me for much of the novel. With all the weird stuff happening there was this huge part of me that just had to find out what was going on. I also really liked our MC Tucker from the very beginning. He wasn’t a hot shot and he wasn’t a complete nerd either, he was just your average guy trying to make it through high school. I think it was easy to connect with him because he came across as so well, ordinary.

We get thrown into a plethora of different types of relationships with Tucker. We see him struggling with coming to terms that his parents haven’t been honest with him in the past, we experience the ups and downs of his friendship with his best friend, Quinn and we get to see some romance bloom. I really enjoyed the banter between Quinn and Tucker. You could feel how close these two were and they really knew each other inside and out which led to some funny ribbing in their dialogue. I also really came to like Tucker’s love interest Tory. She was a blank page for the first half of the novel and I couldn’t get a read on her because of the cold shoulder she was always throwing his way. But once she started to open up, you see why she has her walls up and I liked getting to know her inner workings. Once these two were brought together they really brought out the best in each other and I loved watching them face obstacles that were thrown at them head-on.

Speaking of obstacles... were there ever a lot of them! This was great because the pace felt like it was constantly moving forward and it never lost momentum. There wasn’t a lot of straying from the plot and working towards solving the mysteries was always the intention of the novel. Even with all the relationships that I mentioned above, it didn’t feel as if the story stopped to build those, the plot and their growth worked together seamlessly.

The twist at the end definitely took me by surprise and I have to say that it went in a direction that hadn’t even crossed my mind at any point in the novel. I’m really happy about this because all of the far out there theories I had in my head probably would have left me feeling pretty cheated had the story gone that way. An intense start, to what I think is going to be a solid series, SYLO is one that you should definitely have on your TBR.

--

You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.
Profile Image for Jon.
599 reviews627 followers
July 25, 2013
Enter to win a copy of Sylo over at Scott Reads It!
I have never read the Pendragon series, despite the fact, that it's been on my radar for so long. That being said, this is the first book I've read by D.J. MacHale and it certainly won't be the last. MacHale crafts an interesting story in Sylo from start to finish and I definitely have a feeling that readers will quickly become hooked right from the start. Even though Sylo is an entertaining book, I still have a few issues with it.

I was hooked straight from the start with Sylo due to the ominous, strange events that occur in the first couple of chapters. The reader gets a good sense that something is off on Pemberwick Island and that it's all about to hit the fan. While reading this book, I really felt this "Under The Dome" vibe, though I'm not sure if that's what MacHale was looking to do.

Considering how much I enjoyed the beginning of Sylo, I was a bit disappointed by the middle of the novel. Sylo is a bit too slow-paced for my tastes and it takes way too long for the reader to get a sense of what is going on. A lot of my questions were answered way too late in the novel, and others were never answered at all. I would have rather slowly, progressively been given a clue as to what was going on Pemberwick.

I wasn't a huge fan of the characters in Sylo, but I didn't particularly dislike them either. Tucker, Quinn, and Tori were realistic, but for some reason I never really felt a connection to either of them. I would like for MacHale to include some humor in the dialogue in this book to make the novel a bit less grim and serious.

MacHale's writing style was nothing special and felt a bit unpolished at times. In the beginning, the writing was a bit choppy and there were too many run-on sentences. As the novel progressed, the writing became more refined and easier to read. Something that was consistent throughout the novel was the author's constant "telling".

Truthfully, I don't really see the similarities to Alex Rider, The Maze Runner, and Gone even though my ARC's compares Sylo to those 3 series. The only clear similarity I can of is that all of these books are action-packed books that male readers will love! MacHale definitely knows how to write intense, action scenes and theses are definitely the highlight of his book. The action scenes provided some relief from the constant, looming mystery and were extremely entertaining.

Sylo is one action-packed, thrilling read that will entertain readers until the very end. Sylo was a bit-childish at times, but that didn't really mar my opinion of the book. I hope in book #2, we get more answers because there was a bit too much resolved in this novel. I will most likely be continuing this series and I can't wait to see where Tucker and his friends will end up in the next book.
Profile Image for Liviania.
957 reviews63 followers
July 23, 2013
It was before I started blogging, so no one here knows that I was a fan of the Pendragon series. (Albeit one who was perpetually disappointed it wasn't more Arthurian. Oh, those initial expectations!) Thus D.J. MacHale's name was enough to make me pick up a dystopian novel.

However, SYLO isn't much of a dystopian. There's certainly creepy government control, but it happens here and now. Jimmy Kimmel is still a thing. It's more of a thriller with possible aliens. (No one in the book mentions that it could be aliens until the end, but I am betting on aliens. Because aliens would be awesome, that's why.) It takes place on Pemberwick Island, an idyllic tourist destination in Maine. First, people start dying, possibly due to a strange new performance-enhancing drug. Second, they get cut off from the mainland by a branch of the US Navy known only as SYLO, led by Captain Granger.

Tucker Pierce and his friends Quinn and Tori Sleeper know something funky is going on. Given that they're a curious bunch of fourteen year olds, they soon have their noses in everything. They also keep crossing paths with Kent, an older football superstar, and Olivia, a hot tourist trapped with the townies. It's not exactly the dream team, but Tori in particular is very capable. I liked the balance MacHale struck between Tucker being a level-headed kid and wanting a bit of glory.

There's nothing particularly complex about SYLO. But I enjoyed it quite a bit - MacHale knows how to keep the pages turning. I'll definitely be back for STORM after the game-changing ending, and I'll have my fingers crossed for aliens. Why aren't there more aliens in YA right now? I mean, there's THE 5TH WAVE, but aliens are always great for conspiracies, and battles, and strange regulations. They go perfectly with the dystopian craze.

Don't expect genius, but do expect an absorbing plot and fun characters. MacHale's middle grade fans should be fine reading this YA effort, although there are a few deaths younger fans might find upsetting.
Profile Image for Mel.
878 reviews340 followers
May 12, 2015
I have a very very amazing history with DJ MacHale that he isn't aware of. When I was younger and everyone was getting Harry Potter for Christmas, I got a boxed set of his Pendragon series, books 1 2 3. I instantly started book 1 and fell in love with them. By then 4 books were released so I read the first 4, and every year after that I got the newest Pendragon book for Valentine's Day from my mom. That was my childhood and as far as I'm concerned, I grew up with Bobby Pendragon instead of Harry Potter (even though I did read those at the same time).
So fast forward a long time and I see he's written 2 other series and I decide finally to start one of them. Sylo was nothing like I expected it to be, but I liked it anyways.
This book was full of twists and a lot of events that kept you engaged in the story. I wanted to know what Sylo was, what the ruby was, who brought the ruby, who all the characters were and what they were involved with, and also his parents and Quinn's parents. I'm still left wanting more at the end of the book, which is a good sign since it makes me want to read the rest. I want to know what is going on and honestly I don't really think that Quinn is dead.
One aspect of MacHale's writing I love is that he writes teenagers so well. I've seen some reviews saying that they sound like adults talking through teenagers but I don't agree. He writes teenage emotions and reactions to things exactly how I imagine a real teenager going through them. When Quinn dies I found Tucker's reaction to be spot on. The same with Kent later in the book having a breakdown over everything, it seems really fitting. I also love that the girls are the tougher ones in many of the situations. He doesn't use typical gender roles for this book.
The action, plot, characters and even the pacing in this book are spot on. I adored this book and I can't wait to start the audiobook for the second book.
Profile Image for Courtney.
956 reviews20 followers
March 13, 2015
Strange things are happening on Pemberwick Island. First, the star quarterback suddenly dies during a game. Several more unexplained deaths occur shortly after. An unknown man turns up offering a red crystal called "Ruby" that supposedly gives the individual ingesting it immediate superhuman strength. Then, local kid Tucker and his friend Quinn witness an extraordinary spectacle: a mysterious black ship flying towards the island over the ocean, emitting a strange musical tone. Finally, the military moves onto the island, informing the locals that they are now under a quarantine due to the series of unexplained deaths. Tucker and his friend Quinn know these odd occurrences must all be connected somehow and begin to investigate. It's only a matter of time before they witness someone trying to leave the island, only to be killed by soldiers. Finding answers is going to be a potentially deadly quest, but Tucker, Quinn and Tucker's crush Tori are determined to find out what is happening to their formerly idyllic island home.
SYLO is a fast-paced action story. There are several stock characters - Tori, the smart and pretty love object with a knack for boating; Quinn, the highly intelligent, sarcastic comic relief; a host of seemingly oblivious or outright evil adult characters. Subtleties are not this book's strong suit. It's not a bad a book, by any means. It's certainly unpredictable and the very last chapter is clearly designed to make readers run out to buy the rest of trilogy. So very little is explained by the end of the book that some readers may find it frustrating. Those who love action sequences, military secrets and don't mind unmemorable characters will find a lot to enjoy in this series. It wasn't really ideal for me, but my middle school kids absolutely loved it.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,048 reviews908 followers
April 21, 2016
Tucker Pierce is your average teenager. Living on picture perfect Pemberwick Island, his greatest problem is to get Tori Sleeper to notice him. While out bike riding at night with his best friend, they encounter a light show and an explosion that seemed to be out of this world. Next thing he knows, the government has seized his tiny little town and has held them under supervision. The more he uncovers, the more questions he needs answers to.

This is not a book for patient people, because questions weren’t answered as much as I would have liked them to, but there is a great back story to be read. The development of the characters and the story is a great start to a series, but I was really looking for more science fiction explanations. Especially with all the secrets from his parents. That was what I really wanted to know.

D.J. writes with the experience of a a teenage boy with all the emotions and problems of one and then throws you into a story with a never-ending mystery that will make you want to pull your hair out. Well in my case, I wanted to know what the heck was going on! Looking forward to the next book to find out if all my questions were answered.

Characters
Love the characters!

Pacing/Length
Length was a bit too long, but the pacing was great!

Cover/Design
Definitely fits with the theme of the novel!

Plot
Great plot!

Overall, this story is a must-read for any mystery fans!
Profile Image for Marni.
319 reviews62 followers
December 28, 2013
Okay, I'm a bit iffy on this one. I picked it up from the library earlier this one, because I had some down time coming up. I even started another book and put it down because this one just kept calling to me. Unfortunately, even though parts grabbed me, there was a whole lot of the book that just didn't.

The book starts off just fine. You are introduced to your characters, you get a feel for them. There is mystery, than BAM, quarantine. From there it feels like the author was just kind of tossing this and that into the story, a lot that could have been left out and instead of veering around, gotten straight into it. I haven't read anything else from him, so I don't know if this is his writing style or not.

The story itself is interesting, I really liked the idea the author had and parts of the follow-thru with it. But so much is touched on than just let go. The parents...I know there is more to them, but what?

I look forward to the second book in the SYLO series, because the author has grabbed my interest, especially in the last chapter of this book and I want to know more. I feel that some cutting down on this book would have really made it shine.

I recommend this book to anyone 12+. It's a great mystery with a hint of dystopia and more of that to come in the next installment.
Profile Image for Kaitie.
7 reviews
May 16, 2014
So I liked this book, I will definitely be moving on to the next book at some point. However I do agree with some people when they said that not enough was revealed in this 1st book. I would have like a bit more explanation as to what the whole situation was. On another note, I don't agree with most others when they say that his teenage characters are dumbed down. I actually think it is the opposite, he does what a lot of YA authors do and what I like to call, 20 for 17. Lot's of YA authors tend to write teenagers on a developmental level as college students. Like the author, and in particular in this book, the author says the character is like 17, but they are clearly thinking like a 20 or 21 year old. There is a big difference between how a 17 year old thinks/sees the world, and how a 20 year old sees things. I'm not saying this is a big problem, I personally don't mind, but I guess I'm saying that Machale's problem isn't dumbing down his teenagers, he actually ages them up. Overall Sylo was good and would be a perfect series to pick up if you are a fan of The Maze Runner.
Profile Image for Kristen.
1,739 reviews29 followers
June 22, 2016
This was okay, but I'm pretty picky when it comes to sci-fi...mostly because it's one of my favorite genres. SYLO has too many pages, too many characters, and too many unnecessary scenes. The description also tends to be more "tell" instead of "show", which makes things seem tedious at times. There are quite a few heart-pounding action moments, but everything seems kind of convoluted and messy--there were much cleaner ways to tie up some of the loose ends in this one, and not enough answers were provided in the end to really make me want to continue on in the series.
Profile Image for Anya potgieter .
23 reviews
October 12, 2022
I am obsessed with DJ machale and his writing, so I made sure to check out the SYLO trilogy as soon as possible.

Every since the first chapter when Marty died on the football team, it left me wanting to flip the page to figure out what’s going to happen next!

If your a fan of Machale’s other books (like Pendragon, Morpheus Road & The Library) check out SYLO!

DJ Machale is such a genius!
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