Wednesday, June 26, 2013

(Mother/Son) Book Review: Data Runner

Data Runner
Data Runner by Sam A. Patel
June 25, 2013
Diversion Books
231 pages
Genre: Young Adult/Middle School
Source: NetGalley for honest review
Book Blurb:
In the not-too-distant future, in what was once the old City of New York, megacorporations have taken over everything. Now even the internet is owned, and the only way to transmit sensitive information is by a network of highly skilled couriers called “data runners” who run it over the sneakernet. It is a dangerous gig in a dirty world, but Jack Nill doesn’t have much choice in the matter. A brilliant young math whiz and champion of parkour, Jack must become one of these data runners in order to get his father out of a major gambling debt. But when a mysterious stranger loads Jack’s chip with a cryptic cargo that everybody wants, he soon becomes the key figure in a conspiracy that could affect the entire North American Alliance. Now it’s all up to Jack. With the help of his best friend, Dexter, and a girl who runs under the name Red Tail, Jack will have to use all his skills to outrun the retrievers and uncover the truth before they catch him and clip him for good.
My Review:

I admit I'm probably not the target audience for this book. I got it because I thought my teenage son would like it and I wanted to read something alongside him. I admit in the beginning, there was so much new information - new cities and corporations, lots of techy and Parkour jargon to take in - that I was worried it would either overwhelm me or bore me. I started highlighting passages hoping I'd remember everything. But once I decided to just get the gist and not get bogged down by all the technical details, I really started to appreciate this book. And my advice is to not get overwhelmed in the beginning. As time goes on, if you're like me, you'll pick up more and more on Jack's world. But it is still a lot of information to take in.

This is definitely a plot-driven, action adventure. There is a steady increase in action and pacing until you suddenly get to the point where you don't want to put it down because there seems to always be something coming around the corner. I must compliment Patel on his ability to integrate providing the reader with new information in the midst of potentially dire situations. He was able to find a good balance between the two, furthering the action but keeping the reader up to speed on the big picture and overall plot. Plus this futuristic world he created was really fascinating and not unreasonable, making the whole story more realistic. And I'll say that whatever situation Jack found himself in, I really looked forward to how Patel was going to get him out of it. It felt like Jack was running until the very end, and I felt like I was right there alongside him.

There is also a great mix of characters. I normally love great character development in a book, and while I enjoyed the characters here, I would not say this book is necessarily great at developing the depths of its characters. Jack was a great narrator, observing things like an overly bright, far advanced for his years, 17-year-old at times, and at other times just like a normal kid his own age. His passion for Parkour was clear, and I really loved how Patel brings that love to the reader, making us respect the Parkour philosophy as well. The other characters brought their own life to the story, and we get a bit of background on each of them to make them interesting and see their importance to the story and to Jack, but I would still have liked to know more about them.

Bottomline: This is a great plot-driven, action-packed adventure; light on character development. It's a bit "techy" at times, and the reader will be tempted into confusion, but even if you don't understand every single detail, the overall picture is very intriguing. The actual "data running" and Parkour elements are exciting and a welcome integration into this genre. This is the first book of a series, but we are not left with a huge cliffhanger, more of an idea of what might be happening with Jack in the next book, which I look forward to reading.


My Son's Review (13 y/o):

My first impression when I started Data Runner was that I wasn't going to be into it. In the beginning it was hard to understand what Jack was doing because the technical words were confusing until I got more into the book. After I figured out what Jack did with his life and where he lived, I got more into the story. I really liked the Parkour parts of the story and those were not confusing. I liked that he did Parkour as part of his data running. I really liked when he jumped on a moving train. I also liked the Brentwood Dragons - how and where they trained, their sayings, and their friendships. I also found the plot interesting and how it was laid out. Once I was towards the middle of the book, it was hard for me to stop reading. There was a lot of action and a lot of stuff happening and it made me want to keep reading. I felt the characters were very plain and not a lot was revealed about them. The ending was very surprising. I didn't expect things to happen the way they did. But it was still very exciting to read and makes me want to read the next book. I didn't like all the bad words.

Bad Word Count:
Ass = 9 times
Bastard = 1 time
B--ch = 1 time
Crap = 5 times
Damn/Damning = 11 times

3 1/2 STARS

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