3 out of 4 stars
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A team of kids attending an academy for technically minded students are tasked with the job of finding out what's going wrong in the systems at a bank. At first they think it's a virus or some type of malware, but it seems to be one step ahead of them at every turn. They're the best of the best, but this "virus" is defeating them. It doesn't seem to be as simple as they first thought. What is it? Will Team Raven find a way to defeat it?
Raven: A Cinzento Academy Novel by Sue Loh is a young adult novel of around 238 pages. With no explicit content, but some profanity throughout, this book would be suitable for high school students to adults. Slow to start, the book picks up quickly, so that there's not time to get bored.
First, the book is exceptionally well-edited. It's been some time since I've reviewed a book that had zero errors. I don't know who edited this book, but kudos to them.
One of the best aspects of the book was the descriptions and metaphors the author uses. Comparing unalike items, it added to the enjoyability of the story. "If plain vanilla Fridays were great, this one was made of peanut butter ice cream with Reese’s Pieces on top."
I, also, enjoyed the characters. Mostly, they were teenagers, but these weren't normal teens. These kids had baggage from their families, like most of us do. Yet, they were geniuses when it came to computers. The adults, likewise, had their quirks. My favorite character was Mom. She was the mother figure at the academy and was always making sure the students ate their vegetables and got enough sleep. She, though, was more than she seemed. In order to avoid spoilers, I'll let you figure out what that means.
Though there was plenty to like about the book, it was not without its drawbacks. One of which was the technical nature of the story. Centered around hacking and debugging, there is vocabulary that's advanced. In spite of my computer savvy, discussion of "denial of services," "library files," and "raid arrays" went over my head. I wanted to better understand what was happening, but the language did lend authenticity to the book.
Furthermore, Ms. Loh uses some unique words here and there. For example, "They hared down the street, racing the van and the three men who’d leapt out onto the road." Similarly, there were allusions that I missed. One of the characters talks about Dorugly and Green Snake as well as Grace and Derek. However, not understanding didn't take away from my enjoyment of the plot.
Overall, I had a very tough time deciding on a rating for this book. I enjoyed the story and the ending; it was a fun read. I disliked sorting through the technical details, and I'm not sure I would read the sequel or even reread this one. In the end, I decided to rate Raven: A Cinzento Academy Novel 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to those that have a higher than average knowledge of computers. Though I don't know that I would read another in this series, I am interested to see what else the author comes up with.
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