Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review: The Discovery of Socket Greeny

The Discovery of Socket Greeny
by Tony Bertauski
Release Date: July 13, 2010
2010 Bertauski
E-Book Edition; 282 Pages
ISBN: 978-0982845202
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Author

4 / 5 Stars

Work comes first for 16-year old Socket Greeny's mother ever since his father died.  Now, in this tech-driven futuristic society, he’s zoned on energy drinks and living in virtual worlds because Mom rarely comes home. He doesn’t know what she does for a living.  His only real world thrill is fighting. But a world can change in a single moment. It’s a school day like any other, until Socket starts hearing other people’s thoughts. He’s hallucinating, maybe brain rot from too much virtualmode. Even when time seems to stop, he ignores it.  But when his mom arrives at school, he knows it’s for real. She’s there to take him to work. The Paladin Agency. He discovers an evolved race of humans that have existed for centuries, where thoughts can be heard. And felt. They are people that can manipulate time through the body’s metabolism. They protect the rest of humankind and strive to bring them understanding of their full potential. But some Paladins see humankind as inferior.  Socket soon finds himself in the center of controversy when he's anointed a Paladin prodigy. He didn't ask for the "blessing" of psychic powers and the ability to timeslice, he just wants to go home and be normal again. But, sometimes, life doesn't give us that privilege, his mom tells him. And when humankind is threatened and the Paladins are forced into the public eye, Socket discovers what his mother means. If he doesn't embrace his true nature, the world will change forever.

My Thoughts
While it took me awhile to figure out what was happening in this novel, and to understand the virtual mode of these teenagers, The Discovery of Socket Greeny was entertaining, interesting, and fascinating.  Once I got past the technological lingo that was used extensively in this novel, I was hooked by the plot and the characters, by Socket in particular, and had a difficult time putting it down.

In this world, there exists an entire viritual mode than can be accessed anywhere, including every school and every home, where one can create whole worlds and sims, being whoever you want, doing whatever you want.  One day as Socket and his friends Chute and Streeter hack into the virtual mode and a small war ensues with a rival school, something goes terribly wrong and Socket makes an amazing discovery.  He learns that his sim can feel, touch, and use his other senses, something that should be impossible in the virtual mode.  As he realizes the danger he is in, and calls upon tapped reserves he didn't know he had, a mysterious stranger comes to his rescue and saves him from annihalation.  Even Streeter, the computer whiz, doesn't understand what is happening, and the virtual world is shut down as a result.  Soon, Socket's mother arrives at school to take Socket away and he finds himself in a strange world, a world he didn't know existed, having to face the possibility that he has latent talents of which he knew nothing about, and enemies he didn't know existed.

I found the Paladins' alternate world somewhat confusing, but then I was experiencing it through Socket's eyes.  Imagine a boy, one day having full freedom and rarely seeing his mother, suddenly thrust in the middle of a deadly game of survival, realizing he has the potential to save the entire world, thrust into an explosive political situation, with little choice but to play along.  I fully understood Socket's confusion, anger, and betrayal, and the emotions that were behind everything he did, and I liked him more and more as I read.  He just seemed like a nice, genuine guy who did the best he could in an impossible situation.  The Paladin world seemed so different in comparison to Socket, so ordered and structured and sanitized, that he was like this bright spark in a stark world.  How anyone could live there and not go raving mad is beyond me.  And I do have problems understanding his mother, who doesn't always seem to have Socket's best interests at heart. 

The novel is also about embracing fate when it comes to you and about choices.  Socket struggles inwardly to embrace the new world he is shown and his new talents and the new friends he has made, and often wishes he could go back to his old life, but at the same time he realizes that is not possible after everything he has seen.  He often asks himself the age-old question that after everything you have done and learned, would you be content to go back to the old you or are you strong enough to embrace your destiny and take on the responsibilities you have been given?  It is a difficult choice for Socket, and one he struggles with continuously, especially as he is betrayed by one of his own.

The Discovery of Socket Greeny is a fast-paced, entertaining novel, with great character development.  I really enjoyed the technological aspect as well, and found the virtual mode to be fascinating, if confusing.  I am looking forward to reading The Training of Socket Greeny, the second novel in this trilogy.