‘The Silence of Six’ by E. C. Meyers: YA hacker thriller that feels real

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Rating: 4 1/2 stars

“The Silence of Six” by E. C. Meyers is a young adult (or middle grade) action thriller that takes place in the world of hacking. There are lots and lots of computer references, and to those who are not savvy about the world of hacking, it’s both fascinating and exotic.

It starts when Max’s best friend Evan, whom he hasn’t seen in a while, commits suicide on a video being broadcast during a presidential debate at their high school. Max begins to investigate, partly because of a cryptic text he received from Evan shortly before Evan’s death.

The investigation takes Max to many places, both online and IRL (in real life). In a very mysterious and secret hacker chat room, he connects with the top hackers who knew Evan. Actually, they didn’t really know Evan; they were acquainted with him through his alias. Evan, extremely paranoid, had used many aliases and alter egos both in the real world and online.

Max teams up with Penny and her sister, both of whom are expert hackers and keep a bag packed with emergency items including spare laptops, phones and more. In fact, readers will be astonished to learn what can be done with phones both by and to the users of the phones. Can phones really record things and transmit them remotely? It is real that computers can be accessed remotely and that video can be recorded through the camera.

The plot is that the government is collecting data on everyone through an online program — like either Google or Facebook. Of course, it is a reality that both Google and Facebook collect information on every user. That’s why when someone shops for a rug online, ads for rugs begin appearing on every web page that the user browses. It’s already kind of a scary new world in terms of internet privacy, and this book deals with some very fascinating and potentially dangerous issues.

Also, of course, it’s an entertaining and exciting book with non-stop action and lots of good guys and bad guys. Typical of most action-adventure stories, there’s not a huge amount of character development, but that doesn’t seem to matter in this hard-to-put-down read. Max is clever and creative. It’s a great way to get gamers and video fanatics to perhaps put down the mouse and pick up a book (or kindle).

Please note: This review is based on the advance review copy provided by the publicist, Deb Shapiro. The publisher is Adaptive Books.