Phantom Wheel by Tracy Deebs
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on October 16, 2018 (expected)
Genre(s): fiction, thriller, young adult
Format & Length: paperback, 403
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Believing they have been recruited by the CIA, six teen hackers arrive in LA for a hacking aptitude test with the promise of a college scholarship and a job with the CIA after graduation. But one of the teens, Owen, walks out, refusing to participate. The other five decide to stay and complete the tests. When they finish, they leave feeling equally accomplished and unnerved.
Then silence-until they receive a text from Owen: You’ve been played. He’s uncovered evidence that the hackers created “Phantom Wheel,” the most devastating virus ever made. Jacento, the corporation behind it all, plans to use this virus to gain unprecedented access to personal data. And that’s just the beginning of the devastation. Can the teen hackers stop Phantom Wheel-and protect their own secrets from being revealed-before it’s too late?
Phantom Wheel was a contemporary young adult novel reminiscent of the nineties movie Hackers.
A fast paced, plot driven story, this is told from the perspective of three of the characters, with a few text message conversations and other documents interspersed throughout. I’ve seen very similar storylines before but Phantom Wheel still held my interest and I zipped right through it. And this had a cinematic quality to it, enabling me to vividly imagine everything. I do think this would make a great movie or short tv series.
My biggest issues were with the characters. Each were unique and had their own development arc, but the voices of each of the three perspectives were way too similar. It wasn’t always easy to remember whose point of view I was looking through at any given moment. Some extra fleshing out or limiting it to just one or two perspectives would have made a big difference.
Phantom Wheel may not have been my idea of perfection but I still had a lot of fun reading it! Recommended for fans of young adult technology thrillers.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc of this edition in exchange for an honest review.