Friday, February 18, 2011

Guy Friday--Invasion

Lewis, J.S. Invasion.
E-ARC provided by Net Galley

We've done Guy Friday lists for science fiction list and spies, and Invasion hits both categories as well as monsters and a little romance. Once you add the sly humor and JET PACKS, you have almost the perfect Guy book.

Colt's life is not easy. After the death of both of his parents in a car crash, he is sent to live with his 85-year-old grandfather, a fit military type who was the inspiration for the Phantom Flyer comic book. Luckily, Colt has friends to ease his transition into school; Danielle, a family friend; Oz, whose father runs CHAOS, which is a government agency secretly saving our world from alien invasions; and a girl in whom he is interested romantically. During a trip to the CHAOS academy (which was wiped from his brain), Colt proved himself to be one of the best alien fighters ever and CHAOS is interested in him, but there are other things to deal with first. Colt finds out that it's likely his mother was the target of assassins connected with Trident Biotech, who have been implanting chips into the brains of people with Parkinsons and epilepsy to help them function better... and to turn them into remote controlled armies of killers!! Dani and Oz help him infiltrate Trident, get information to prove that this is the case, and fight off these red-eyed Cursed people, who show up and try to kill Colt at the most unfortunate moments. When Trident kidnaps Dani and implants a chip in her brain, it becomes personal, and Colt works against the clock to make everything turn out okay. There must be a sequel forthcoming.

Weaknesses: Almost too much information-- I wished there were either the Trident story OR the aliens, which felt like an excuse to bring in the grandfather's Phantom Flyer persona rather than a supporting story for the title. Reading a digital copy made it impossible to flip back and check on things I needed clarified.

Strengths: Whew. Talk about fast-paced action and adventure! Students will not get bored with this one, and the take on the aliens was fresh. The characters are likeable, writing deft and sly, villains deliciously wicked. Can't wait to get a copy in the library. I am not alone. Other readers who liked it include:
Mundie Kids (interview with Mr. Lewis)
Reading Review
Secret Life of a Bibliophile (interview)

Apple. I Pad.
Donation to our school from one of our fundraisers.

This device got so much press that I was very interested to see one and be able to investigate its capabilities, especially since I was a huge Apple fan back in the early '90s. But I'm old, and the fact that it didn't even come with a tiny instruction book on how to turn it on was annoying. To set it up, it had to be connected to a computer with internet access, and then registered through iTunes with a credit card. The manual was available online to download (thank goodness I have Adobe Digital editions), and it needed WiFi (which my son just installed this week). Talk about a needy device!

We are investigating educational uses for this; many of our teachers have taken classes. The free educational applications seem to be the most obvious use, but there may be a trouble connecting the unit to our LCD projectors. One of our teachers has her own, which she shows to her classes using the ELMO, which seems about as archaic as connecting it to a film strip projector!

I can't see buying this for myself. It didn't have Claris Works or any word processing program, and I couldn't figure out how to open multiple browser windows (working on book orders takes about five!). Sure, it was fun to watch Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor on YouTube (there was a button; I had to see if it worked; I wanted choose something where nothing inappropriate popped up!), but for working purposes, this would not be a useful tool for me. It's more of an expensive toy to use for the apps and web browsing.


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