on 28 May 2015
There was a lot I was ready to love about this - cool sci-fi concept, check, computers and hackers, check, youngster taking down super mega corporation, check. And in a lot of ways these elements were all portrayed with a degree of realism that made Data Runner not any old YA Sci-Fi Lite. It had big ideas, and a level of technical accuracy that made it challenging and realistic.
But that, unfortunately, also came with a level of technobabble that at times made it close to unreadable.
I have a fairly high tolerance for technobabble. I'm relatively intelligent, a very forgiving reader, and I have a basic understanding of a broad range of science-y topics that gives me a way in to a lot of science fiction. But this started to lose me pretty quickly.
And it was a shame, because there was a great story here. I loved all the subterfuge and intrigue of the different corporations, and the idea of the 'sneakernet' - a network of data transfer powered by people running the data from one side of the city to another - was a fantastic concept. I liked the characters, particularly Jack - our protagonist - who was equal parts cocky and insecure in a very realistic teenage boy kind of way. But when you have to stop to reread a passage three times before you can start to get an inkling about what's going on, it really throws you out of the story.
After a while, I did start to get the hang of it, and found the second half of the book much easier going than the first as I began to wrap my head around some of the language. I have always thought that if a book needs a glossary, then the writer isn't working hard enough to introduce terms and ideas in a way that's accessible to the reader. At times when reading this book, I really wanted a glossary.
Perhaps technology is starting to lose me. Perhaps I'm just getting too old!