*Thank you to TheNovl for sending me a copy of this book to review. Please know that all of the opinions are my honest thoughts.
I just flew through the Phantom Wheel by Tracy Deebs! The idea for the book was unique and intriguing, and I knew that I would love it. A bunch of teenagers hackers getting played by
a group pretending to be the CIA and accidentally creating the worlds most dangerous computer virus and having to fix it
all during and before finals? SIGN ME UP!
As I mentioned before, I knew that I would love the book before I even started it. It sounded like it had all of the necessary components to make it an exciting, intriguing, and
suspenseful read! In the beginning, the book hit a bit of a lull; I felt as if the story was being told instead of being shown to me. I understand that in the beginning, the story, characters, and scene needs to be set up, but I think that it could have been done better. However,
once the "you've been played" text comes through and the group starts to learn what they have accidentally done, it starts to pick up. Throughout the rest of the book, it is continuously fast-paced, a race against the clock to avoid a worldwide disaster. This pacing makes the book impossible to set down for a second! I sat down after school hoping to
read a chapter or two and ended up reading the whole thing instead. I enjoyed the fast-paced nature of this story, but at parts, I felt as if it was too much. I felt as if the story went from creating a code to straight to running from gunfire and the police while hacking cars. For the most part, the story felt pretty believable, which only added to the underlying sense of dread that THIS was what our world is like. I think that is what made me so attached to
the characters and the story. The fact that it was so eerily similar to today and a technology giant wanted to gather all of our information to sell to the government just makes me so uncomfortable.
I love the writing style that Deebs had. I'll be honest; I am not a fan of coding and things having to do with the technical aspect of technology. This undoubtedly stems from a bad experience at coding camp where all we did was copy code that our instructor wrote on the board without explaining to us what it did. However, the writing and the fun that the characters had while hacking made me, more than once, want to learn how to code! It
seems like it would be so much fun and so rewarding once you write a successful code or
be able to get past a firewall! The writing helped to immerse me into the hacking world. I loved all of the technical terms; however, some went over my head, and I had no idea what the characters were talking about or doing. It wasn't too disruptive that I had to stop and look up the words, but it did leave me pretty confused!
And the multiple POVs! I am a huge fan of having multiple points of view, but here, I felt as
if it was too much. Switching between all six of the characters, or what felt like it, made me super confused and I often had to go back to the chapter headings to see which
perspective I was reading from. I only definitively knew that I would be reading from
Harper's perspective because of the nicknames that she gave everyone else.
I liked the characters in this book, but I didn't feel as if I could fully connect to them. I loved learning more about them through their little profiles. But, I felt as if I never really got to know them and their little habits. I have a feeling that the multiple perspectives were meant to help shine some light on the characters' personalities, but I don't believe that they did.
To me, it seemed as if the characters almost had the same voice which made it even harder for me to distinguish between the characters when the point of view changed. While it sounds like I didn't enjoy the characters, I did. I love how they interacted with each other
and watching them learn and grow together as a team.
In conclusion, the Phantom Wheel was a great read. It was full of suspense and action, and I just couldn't put it down! Quite honestly, the way coding and hacking was portrayed, made me want to give coding a try again. While the multiple POVs and some terminology made it hard to understand what point of view was being shown or what was going on, it didn't take too much away from the experience. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a fantastically written, fast-paced book!