Tracy Alexander, Hacked. Scholastic, 1 April 2015. 288pp. $16.99 (pbk) ISBN 9781760152895
People are clever in different ways. The fruit and veg shop man can add up prices in his heads, Joe can scale the wall like a gecko. Dan Langley has a talent for writing computer code. At first, he gets free competition points for his sister, then he gets free credit for his girlfriend’s phone. Later he hacks surveillance cameras to see who ran over his best friend. Finally, he hacks into a US military surveillance drone. This doesn’t cause him immediate problems until he gives the code to an online ‘friend’, Angel, who immediately disappears. When London is threatened by a terrorist flying a combat drone, Dan owns up to giving the code away. What follows is a blame game as Dan is interviewed for terrorism charges and the USA demands his extradition.
This is an exciting, action-packed cyber-thriller. Dan battles not only law officers that don’t understand how or why he hacked but also family and friends. He’s classified a law-breaker, someone to shun, until others admit that they were also taken in by Angel’s heist. This book reads like a genuine insight into the mind of a boy who, although he knows what he’s doing is wrong, also has a set of skills that officials should be utilising and not condemning. Dan’s final stand is eventually supported by most of the country but he really only wins on the very last page. Highly recommended.
reviewed by Pam Harvey