|Jacked by Kirk Dougal is a YA sci-fi thriller with a very interesting concept. The idea is that almost all electronics (or tech) has shut down after the Crash. At the same time, the majority of the population either died or went brain dead. A bunch of religious zealots (Black Shirts) are now in charge and they have pretty much criminalized the use or fixing of any technology. Then along come the Fixers. Individuals who can bring electronics back to life with nothing but a touch. Tar is one of these Fixers and the story is about his struggle against the Black Shirts.|
The concept is what is really interesting here. Not the dystopian future or the lack of tech, but the idea that these religious fanatics have taken over and are running something a lot like a dictatorship. The Fixers themselves are the other real interest and (without any spoilers) I liked the way Dougal explains their mysterious powers.
It was clear a lot of work has gone into the world building and the characters use of internet-age related slang was a good way to show it. The characters say 404 instead of lost and fragged instead of the more popular f-word. It was quite fun even if I couldn't quite figure out what book meant as it seemed to have multiple different meanings.
The characters were interesting and none more so than the baddies. In fact I'd have liked a bit more of an exploration into their lives. Our main character of Tar felt a little like every other YA hero. He was strong willed but not very strong, had a mysterious ability that puts him front and center, and he just wants to help everyone. He was a bit bland to be honest, but not enough to be a distraction.
The biggest problem the book faced was its pacing. It feels like nothing is happening for a lot of it as the characters are chased, captured, escape, chased, captured, escape. And the main character doesn't make a decision until the final 20%. Until then the story happens to him rather than him happening to the story. There were a few times I was growling at Tar to take control of his life even for just a moment.
The world feels a little small because everything that is happening is happening in such a small area of it. This Crash was a worldwide event but all the major players appear to be in one city. It seems a little odd. I like to find out what was going on in other areas of the world and how the Crash was affecting them.
In the end, Jacked was a fun take on the YA dystopian thriller. Fans of Hunger Games and Divergent will probably love it, but it wasn't really my cup of tea.
Rob J. Hayes is the author of the acclaimed The Ties that Bind trilogy and the upcoming Best Laid Plans duology. You can find out more on his website here.
Wednesday, 15 June 2016
Book Review: Jacked by Kirk Dougal