I recently read the first book in the “Assured Destruction” series by Michael F. Stewart and I enjoyed the novel. While it was not what I was expecting when I started the book, I still found it to be a fast and entertaining read. I was hoping for more of the same when I started “Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie” which continued the adventures of Janus Rose.
Janus Rose had gotten in trouble with the law but was given a second chance by only being required to serve 2000 hours of community service. This might sound like a strong sentence but Detective Williams of the Ottawa Police Department volunteered to be her sponsor and allow Janus to use her computer skills to help out the department’s High Tech Crime Unit. Jan was surprised when she got her first call almost immediately and found herself working on a case involving the theft of credit card numbers.
With all of the pressure that is surrounding her with trying to keep up with school and save the family business, Jan quickly makes mistakes that draw the ire of police captain. She is then given a laptop and told to profile the person, she is told a murderer, who had owned it only to later find that it is the captain’s old computer. She is thrown off the force and assigned to complete her community service at a soup kitchen. This does not stop Jan from working on the case while trying to find a way to save the family business her home, and her budding romance with her new boyfriend. A friend’s request for help with a cyber-stalker complicates her life even more and Jan feels like she is going to crack under all the pressure. Then her mother’s mysterious boyfriend, Peter, steps in and introduces Jan to the hacker world through the secret network and Jan begins to see a light at the end of the tunnel even if she still does not understand exactly what Peter wants. Now she just needs to figure everything out before she is expelled from school, left homeless, or worse.
I was impressed by the first book in the series so I dove into the second book quickly and I was not disappointed. Stewart again shows a deft hand in handling characters and the fast pace of the novel so that the reader finishes it wanting more but not feeling as if anything was missed. That is not to say that this is a perfect book as some leaps of faith are needed for the action to really work and some aspects of the story are simplified or glossed over to keep the story flowing (and also party due to the fact that this is a young adult novel) but these are easily forgiven. After all, this is an adventure story and Stewart does keep the story entertaining throughout. The goal of the novel is to entertain and it succeeds in achieving that goal.
The only thing that keeps “Script Kiddie” from moving from a good to a very good novel is that there is almost too much going on in the book. There are so many different plot lines in the novel that there is little time to address them all and the further development of the characters takes a backseat to the furthering of the action. This is alright to an extent and it does keep the action flowing but I was disappointed that Janus was not really developed much further as a character (there is some limited character development through her interaction with the hackers) and many of the other characters are really little more than cardboard cutouts used to fill out the story. This is a little odd considering that this is the middle book of a trilogy, which are usually criticized for being too full of exposition, and I think that this is a small detriment to the series as a whole. I also was disappointed that Shadownet is almost nonexistent in this book and Jan’s Twitter addiction became a little annoying rather than serving to give a different perspective to the story as it did in the first novel. Still, this is a young adult thriller and that means that the book is meant to be exciting and entertaining and it succeeds in both areas. This is a good book that can be enjoyed by both adults and younger readers.
I would like to thank Michael F. Stewart for this review copy. “Assured Destruction: Script Kiddie” is available now.