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Tom Harvey has always lived in a tough neighborhood. The local gangs, the Crows or the FGH, battle against one another over petty crimes and murder. Tom, though, has steered clear of that life until the fateful day when an iPhone collided with his skull and shattered into small fragments. He was on his way home to visit his neighbor and potential love interest, Lucy, when the iPhone was hurtled from the 30th floor and careened towards him. It wasn’t until he awoke from a coma several weeks later that he learned his life was never going to be the same.

"The most harrowing aspect of Kevin Brooks’s new book is that it seems so real."

Although the doctors removed nearly all the phone fragments and guaranteed him that everything should be normal, Tom finds himself with some extraordinary capabilities. He can access the Internet, phone records, music, etc. in his brain. He can break through encryptions, hack impenetrable websites, and even access his Facebook account just by switching on a part of his mind. Because of his brain’s natural electric impulses, Tom can also shock others strongly enough to render them helpless. With his newfound powers, he feels more confident than ever and decides to find out who threw the phone out of the building in the first place. The truth behind this, though, changes Tom forever.

Apparently Lucy’s older brother had gotten mixed up with the street gangs, and they decided to visit him to set him straight. Lucy intervened to help her brother, and in the process was gang raped. Somewhere during the struggle, the phone was thrown out of the apartment and hit Tom. Burning with hatred from not only what happened to him but also to Lucy, Tom decides to seek out the gang members and exact revenge. In the process, he also tries to reconnect with Lucy and help bring her peace.

Tom’s wish to remain unnoticed isn’t as easy as he had hoped. Creating havoc for the gang members involved in Lucy’s rape starts to attract the attention of the higher-ups. The news starts running stories of a masked vigilante who appears to be cleaning up the streets with some unusual powers. The police find some reasons to stop by Tom’s apartment, and even Lucy becomes suspicious after a mysterious message from a person named “iBoy” appears on her Facebook. Tom never asked for his powers, but that doesn’t mean he can escape who he’s become. 

The most harrowing aspect of Kevin Brooks’s new book is that it seems so real. I believe that someday humans will have some sort of computer chip embedded in their brains with 24-hour access to the WiFi network. It also seems quite real that small yet influential gangs could take control of neighborhoods and create fear. Brooks, though, takes a positive spin on this compelling future as he has created a hero who, despite being flawed, genuinely seeks to help others and do some good.

Before you go wishing for an iPhone to crash into your brain because it would be cool, think about the great responsibility behind the somewhat unfortunate powers and abilities.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on December 18, 2011

by Kevin Brooks