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SYLO (The SYLO Chronicles) Paperback – March 4, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–MacHale's current-day dystopic series opener begins with a mysterious death and gets stranger from there. On Pemberwick Island off the coast of Maine, Tucker Pierce, 14, is vaulted onto his high school football team's starting lineup after a star player falls dead at the end of a game. To clear their heads, Tucker and his friend Quinn Carr take a late-night bike ride on the road that runs around the island's perimeter only to encounter a shadowy flying object that emits strange music that then explodes over the water. Within a few days, a stranger to the island offers Tucker a “supplement” called “the Ruby” that makes him feel superhuman. Then a military force wearing red camo uniforms with a patch bearing the word “SYLO” takes control of the island, and the president announces a quarantine until the CDC can identify and neutralize the “Pemberwick virus.” Tucker and Quinn don't know what to make of events or who to trust as martial law takes over. In desperation, the teens make plans with Tori Sleeper, a lobsterman's daughter, to use her dad's two boats to escape the island. MacHale pens some terrific and unique action scenes, but they never overwhelm the story as the characters face one quandary, riddle, or dilemma after another in unraveling the mystery of what is happening. The shocking ending will leave readers hungry for the next installment.–Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WIα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
High-school freshman Tucker Pierce lives on isolated Pemberwick Island, just off the coast of Maine. He has the requisite wiseacre best friend, Quinn, and is crushing on two unobtainable girls, Tori and Olivia. But when a series of sudden and mysterious deaths, including one of Tucker’s classmates, throws everything he knows into turmoil, it leaves him with no idea where to turn or who to trust. Tucker’s conversational, first-person point-of-view draws the reader in as SYLO, a military operation endorsed by the president, takes over the island. It quickly becomes apparent that SYLO forces will stop at nothing to see that everyone stays put. But then Tucker witnesses several cold-blooded killings, and he and his friends are determined to escape to the mainland. Once there, they find more questions than answers, and the story ends with a wide-open cliff-hanger and no resolution whatsoever. With this extremely high-octane story that’s the equivalent to a summer movie blockbuster (enough explosions and firepower to put Michael Bay to shame), MacHale kicks off an apocalyptic trilogy sure to leave readers demanding the next installment. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: MacHale is the author of the bestsetting Pendragon series so, clearly, there are more than a few middle-grade kiddos who’ll be snapping up this one. Grades 5-8. --Charli Osborne --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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So Tucker seems like just the average guy. A bit of a cliche, the average guy turns out to be not so average. But here's the surprise. The cliche WORKED. It didn't feel cheesy in the slightest. THe book didn't start out slow, but I guess it was because of that great hook phrase in the beginning.
"IT was the perfect night for a football game. And for Death... It was the night it began. The night of the death. The first death."
That was the hook that wouldn't let go. But after that, it did have some trouble keeping my interest, until SYLO arrived.
A bunch of questions were being brought up, and D.J. MacHale posed all those questions in a way that didn't make it overwhelming or frustrating. And with those questions, I was dying to find out. And even though there wasn't too much creative writing, Machale compensated that by describing a scene with specifics. For example, there's a boat. What kind of boat? A Beal boat with a diesel engine. But one thing that bothered me: How can Tucker know if it was a Beal or a Duffy? He isn't the boat person. Tori is. And even then, how can you confuse a Duffy and a Beal?
There was a drastic change in Tucker as the story progressed. He went from Average joe who doesn't ask questions. To someone determined who questions everything and (view spoiler) and (view spoiler) Buuuut I guess that's what happens then you (view spoiler)
Tori's character wasn't as, how do I put it... built. But I guess that is done on purpose for stylistic reasons. All we know is that Tori is reserved, serious, blunt, and at times, emotionless. A grey character. But that is how Tucker sees her because she doesn't open up. But as the plot progresses, we (Tucker and the reader) begin to see some hints of a personality as Tori tells Tucker more about herself and as they stick together through the chaotic times.
Quinn's character didn't appeal to me much. He was just the slight comic relief (view spoiler)
I was told there was romance in the book, and that was completely misleading. There was a total of 2 kisses in the book and a little winks and smiles. I guess that's romance, but I assumed there would be a relationship forming or something more obvious. I can see Tucker and Tori warming up to each other though.
THe ending of the book answered one huge question, only to give me a ton more. And I am anxious to find out more. 4 Stars
My only complaint? The issue of who the bad guys were and why they were bad was a bit of a mystery with a different answer every page. The whole I-Don't-Know-What's-Happining-But-I'm-Going-To-Find-Out plot line can be done well, but in this case, it left me feeling dissatisfied. I would have been fine if they had known for certain by the end of the book, but they didn't. Sure, they got closer but...
I feel as though this book screams single book, but they decided to go with a series instead.
If I went back in time, I would read it again. I know I will, without a doubt, read the sequel.
All in all, it was a good book. It won't be my first pick for a recommendation for someone, yet if you are interested enough to look it up, I would say go for it :) Try the first couple of pages and if it hooks you in, run with it.
If you like the Pendragon Adventures, GONE, and The Maze Runner, then this is definetly the book for you!
P.S. Pardon my bad English. English is not my mother tongue, but I hope I didn't make too many verbal mistakes ^^
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