When I got the chance to get a review copy of “Assured Destruction: With Zombies” by Michael F. Stewart, I jumped at the chance to read the book. After all, that is a cool title and I love zombies. What I did not realize is that this was the third book of the series. Luckily, the author came to the rescue and provided review copies of the first two books of the series so I dug right into the first book, “Assured Destruction,” although I really did not know what to expect.
Janus Rose has led less than a perfect life. When her mother was diagnosed with MS, her father left Jan and her mother to fend for themselves and run the family business, Assured Destruction, by themselves. The business, which recycles electronics and certifies the destruction of hard drives and the information they store, has been stumbling lately and the family is sinking deeper into debt. Jan has little time for friends with school and her responsibilities to the business. But Jan is something of a computer genius and has taken some of the hard drives she was supposed to destroy to create a network of computer friends which she calls Shadownet. It was a harmless diversion In her eyes but when the people who had given the hard drives to Assured Destruction are targeted, it becomes some much darker.
Janus is framed for some of the crimes and she feels the noose closing in around her neck. This, along with a budding romance with one of her classmates who is an unwitting member of Shadownet, leads Janus on a search for who is behind the crimes. When Shadownet is attacked and shut down, Janus is left without her safety net to try to stop the crimes and protect her family and the business. She must turn to some help from her mother’s mysterious new boyfriend, Peter, to try to stop the criminal before it is too late.
“Assured Destruction” is a young adult novel that is a blend of mystery and science fiction and it captured my attention from the very beginning. I have to admit that I was expecting something different, especially since the third book which had caught my attention had zombies in the title, but I was not disappointed by the story at all. Stewart has crafted a world that was very believable and which I felt that I could relate to immediately. Jan is a sympathetic character with her mix of cockiness and confidence in her computer skills while being a bit of a social outcast who is more comfortable with her own company rather than that of other people. I found the story easily accessible and would expect that it would be so for a younger reader as well.
I enjoyed reading “Assured Destruction” and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Stewart sets the stage well for a series based on the characters while still keeping the novel entertaining and fairly fast-paced. I would definitely recommend this book for both young adult and adult readers and am looking forward to the future adventures of Janus Rose as well as to seeing how Stewart develops both her and the other characters that are sure to return in the series.
I would like to thank Michael F. Stewart for this review copy. “Assured Destruction” is available now from Non Sequitur Press.