Monday, 21 April 2014

Script Kiddie by Michael F Stewart

Script Kiddie by Michael F Stewart is the second book in the Assured Destruction trilogy. You can read my review of the first book here. This review contains spoilers for the first book, Assured Destruction, since the ending of that feeds into the set up of Script Kiddie.
Jan Rose no longer steals data from the old computers she recycles. She doesn't need to. As the newest member of the police department’s High Tech Crime Unit, the laptop of a murderer has landed on her desk. Her job: to profile and expose a killer.

But that’s not all.

A creep lurks in the shadows, stalking a friend, and Jan must stop him before the hunt turns deadly. The clock counts down for Jan to save her friend, her job, her boyfriend--maybe even her life.
Where the first book was about Jan doing some questionable things and then being "punished" for it by the bad guy, Script Kiddie is about Jan trying to hold everything together while trying to prevent bad stuff from happening. After the events in Assured Destruction, Jan finds herself sentenced to 2000 hours of community service. Luckily for her, the cop that showed up a bit in the first book, recognises her hacking skills and recruits her as an assistant (sort of) in the cyber crimes division.

Script Kiddie definitely carries the same tone as Assured Destruction, but the angle of the plot is less someone semi-randomly attacking Jan and more Jan trying to help and fix things. I think I enjoyed it more for this reason. Like in the first book, she does make some poor decisions, but most of those were related to not being experienced with what the police wanted her to do. Aside from a few naive and, well, a little eccentric choices, I didn't feel she made quite as many poor decisions. Which, yay, character development. (But she does do some silly things still, don't get me wrong.)

The title comes from her making some forays into the hacking community — a script kiddie is a very low-level hacker that more experienced hackers mock. Tied with the hacking is Jan's changing relationship with Peter, her mum's boyfriend. In the first book he was newer and more distant from the plot (mainly just existing for her to be annoyed that her mum has such an old boyfriend) but he has become more central. I have to admit I'm a little suspicious of his role and I'm wondering what will happen with him in the final book. I hope he really does turn out to be nice, but it's hard to predict at this point.

Although this is a second book in a trilogy and the events do follow on directly from the first book, the plot is pretty stand-alone. I mean, it's still better to read the first book first because of character introductions and back-story, but the plot that arises in Script Kiddie is almost all tied up by the end. The only thing that isn't tied up is Jan's mum's illness — MS — which takes a turn for the worse in this book. That's the only cliffhanger at the end. I was going to read the third book anyway, but now I need to, to find out what happens with her mum. I hope it won't be too sad.

Script Kiddie was a fun read and I'll definitely be reading the last book in the series straight away. I recommend the series to anyone looking for a fast-paced, geeky, contemporary YA series. Each book is pretty short (in fact, my omnibus edition is only a few iPad pages longer than the last BFF I read) and not a huge time commitment.

4 / 5 stars

First published: 2013, Non Sequitur Press
Series: Yes. Assured Destruction, book 2 of 3
Format read: eARC of the Complete Series edition (see second cover art above)
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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