Thursday, April 18, 2013

Assured Destruction - Or Has It?

It's time to trip back to high school with today's review.  This YA novel has twists, turns, and plenty of intrigue to garner your average teenager's attention.  So buckle up, grab your key, and let's go for a ride with Michael Stewart's novel Assured Destruction.  Oh, and don't forget to sign up for an Amazon gift card at the end!

Book Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Jan Rose knows that nothing is ever truly deleted. At least, not from the hard drives she scours to create the online identities she calls the Shadownet.

Hobby? Art form? Sad, pathetic plea to garner friendship, even virtually? Sure, Jan is guilty on all counts. Maybe she’s even addicted to it. It’s an exploration. Everyone has something to hide. The Shadownet’s hard drives are Jan’s secrets. They're stolen from her family’s computer recycling business Assured Destruction. If the police found out, Jan’s family would lose their livelihood.

When the real people behind Shadownet’s hard drives endure vicious cyber attacks, Jan realizes she is responsible. She doesn’t know who is targeting these people or why but as her life collapses Jan must use all her tech savvy to bring the perpetrators to justice before she becomes the next victim.

My Review:
I found this novel to be a delightful read once I got into the storyline.  Being very techno-challenged, I was quite lost within the scope of the earlier chapters, but soon found myself engrossed in the story and wanting to know for sure how Jan was going to get herself out of the predicament she waltzed right into.

Jan has no personal life.  After her dad left a few years before when her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Jan has to rush home from school every day to help keep the family business afloat.  Being tied to her family means she doesn't have time when a cute guy asks her on a date.  Her only company consists of her "friends", hard drives she's stolen from the computers that should have been destroyed.  These she sets up around her command center console with personalities she creates.  They become her surrogate family.

Plus she's too smart for her own good.  She runs rings around her computer science instructor, who regularly flunks her assignments because she just can't bring herself to keep it simple.  Bogged down with too much responsibility (and that her free time is regularly spent around her console), she's pretty much struggling in all of her classes - and with that come threats from her ill mother to take away the only thing that keeps her sane.

One day the cyber world Jan has created comes crashing down.  All of the people related to the stolen hard drives begin having terrible things happen to them, from child pornography charges of a classmate to home robbery.  The cops soon come knocking on Jan's door.

If the police find out about what Jan's been up to with the hard drives, her mother's struggling business could be lost.  Then to Jan's dismay, her mom decides to begin a crash course in online dating.  Couple that with Jan becoming the target of one mean and nasty smear campaign - and it might include smearing out her life.  Complications ramp up as two completely different guys begin vying for her attentions.

But are all of these new people in Jan's life who they seem to be or are one of them the culprit setting her up for a dive?

There are plenty of red herrings in the story, but it was fun to see which one ultimately ends up being the bad guy.  Pretty much from the beginning, I was pretty sure I knew, but it was still intriguing how she was going to clear the air with everything going wrong.

Formatting and grammar was fairly clear - and the cover was really cool.  Overall a good read that should keep the YA audience guessing. 

Michael F. Stewart's Bio:

After crewing ships in the Antarctic and the Baltic Sea and some fun in venture capital, Michael anchored himself (happily) to a marriage and a boatload of kids. Now he injects his adventurous spirit into his writing with brief respites for research into the jungles of Sumatra and Guatemala, the ruins of Egypt and Tik’al, paddling the Zambezi and diving whatever cave or ocean reef will have him. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and SF Canada, and the author of the Assured Destruction series, 24 Bones, The Sand Dragon, Hurakan, Ruination and several award winning graphic novels for young adults.  Visit his website at

Amazon paperback ($8.99)

Kindle ($2.99)

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  1. Thank you for the fun review, DA, I really appreciate the time and I'm glad you enjoyed ASSURED DESTRUCTION! :)

    1. Thanks for a neat read - looking forward to seeing how Jan makes this into a "career". :-)

  2. Thanks for taking us into the ins and outs of Janus' cyber world, D A! Great review :)

    1. Such a unique story! The YA audience should really enjoy it.

  3. I generally don't look for YA books but the synopsis for Assured Destruction is quite intriguing and I'll have to check it out. The cover IS cool and I love the author's photo.

    1. I'm like you too, Gary, in usually steering away from YA. However, AD was so unique I found myself getting into it and rooting for the protagonist. The storyline stayed pretty tight as well and didn't drift away for pages on end and lose me. Be sure and sign up to try to win a free book!