2 out of 4 stars
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Superhighway is the first installment in the Superhighway Trilogy by Alex Fayman. Based in science fiction, the novel focuses primarily on 18 year old orphan Alex Fine as he grapples with the new implications and explores opportunities that his new ability provides.
Written in the first person, the story centers around Alex Fine, a studious, hardworking orphan disillusioned by the concept of family and who wants nothing more than to excel far beyond the limitations of his life. When his orphanage is granted a computer room, Alex is ecstatic - he can finally access the digital world that seemed so wondrous and novel to him as a child. Alex gets more than he bargains for, however, as he is transported through the corridors of the web and brought to a shocking realization about his new powers. With the world literally at his fingertips, Alex is open to just about anything, and sets out as a digital Robin Hood with the manipulation of his new gifts. The blissful high of his cybernetic adventures is ground to a inevitable halt when a tragic event rocks Alex's world further off kilter. Dealing with the fallout of his actions, Alex encounters new friends that help shed some light on his past, and uncover deeply buried secrets that threaten his very existence. Fueled by hatred and anger, he embarks on a journey of revenge and attempts to right the wrongs his actions have wrought.
I found Alex to be a rather complex and, more often than not, contradictory character. In the initial phases of the novel, Alex's thoughts and personality speak of a moral code and an inner discipline which are, in his own words, uncommon for people his age. His virtues apparently stem from his treatment and upbringing by a lady at the orphanage with whom he shares a mutual love and his desire to be greater than his station - an understandable and realistic passion that enhanced the story's credence and created a catalyst for the events that occur in Superhighway. As the story progresses, Alex's behaviour directly calls his apparent morality into question as he makes some rather immoral choices. In spite of this, Alex appears more human because of these flaws, and his character visibly develops intriguing facets.
The dialogue of Superhighway was painfully formal. Though not at all incorrect, refusing to use contractions instead of their extended forms was extremely at odds with everyday lingo and lent the novel a dramatically stilted edge. Added to that, despite being very well-written, the descriptions were overly long with conversations few and far between. All this contributed to a sort of flat feeling while reading the novel and I couldn't really connect to any specific character because of this detachment.
The ease with which the protagonist adapts to life-changing situations either speak to an impressively developed mental fortitude or Fayman's incredibly inept portrayal of human behaviour and reactions. For instance, Alex Fine, upon discovery of his remarkable powers, immediately accepts these talents with seemingly very few questions and little to no surprise. Another source of puzzlement is how this character reacts to normally traumatic experiences. His behaviour was downright nonchalant and kind of unreal.
The ability proposed by Fayman to move through the net invites simultaneously exciting and frightening possibilities. The avenues cruised touch on the implications that would arise if any one person possessed these abilities, and the vulnerability of those with online information. It also delves into government conspiracies and goes into the consequences of our actions when bolstered by revenge or some other passionate emotion.
Fayman enables readers to capture an exact setting due to the employment of vivid imagery and a wonderful writing style. There very few errors, grammatically or otherwise, made in the book. The only notable mistakes occurred when Fayman repeatedly used 'waive' in place of its homophone 'wave', the correct word.
I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I find this rating appropriate taking into consideration the points mentioned above. I would recommend Superhighway to lover of scientific fiction with a slightly dark edge, spiced by a mix of conspiracy theories , revenge, and a hint of romance. Other readers who appreciate well-written works regardless of genre might also wish to peruse this novel.
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