Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review: Sylo by D. J. MacHale

While Sylo intrigued me with an interesting premise and an exciting ending, I did have some problems with it.

Tucker lives on Pemberwick Island off the coast of Maine. It's a vacation spot, but Tucker is a full-timer. Tucker is a freshman football player who sits the bench until the star player drops dead at the end of a football game. The autopsy gives no indication of why he died.

Now Tucker is thrust into a starting situation, and there's no way he can compete. A strange man offers Tucker a supplement -- that is supposedly totally natural and safe -- to help him with his football prowess. Tucker takes the supplement one time, and although it does make him much stronger and faster, he vows never to take it again for fear it is harmful. Tucker believes this substance, called Ruby, is what killed the football player.

Tucker and his friend Quinn often take midnight bike rides around the island. On one of these rides, a mysterious dark shape appears in the sky and they hear strange music. This craft is apparently shot down right in front of them. They report the incident to the police, but nothing is ever discovered about this incident.

The island is eventually quarantined by a branch of the U. S. military called Sylo. The claim to mean no harm, but they are sealing the island because of a mysterious virus. The CDC comes to investigate. Tucker wonders if the virus is somehow related to Ruby.

The citizens aren't buying the quarantine, mostly because they have been cut off from communicating with the mainland too. They don't understand why.

Tucker, Quinn, and a girl named Tori begin to sneak around to figure out what has really happened. They witness horrible things and realize they are being lied to. MacHale isn't afraid to kill people off. I liked the characters and their interactions, but Sylo is more about the action and the plot than the characters. There's the possibility of a romantic relationship, but nothing really happens in Sylo, so male readers don't have to worry about that!

My first issue with Sylo is that it's pretty bloated. I usually don't read the blurb on the book before I start reading. But, Sylo took so long for anything to happen that after about 50 pages, I looked at the back to determine what this book is about. It's 80 pages before the island is actually quarantined. Even after the quarantine, things move very slowly until the last 150 pages when things really pick up. At over 400 pages, some of this bulk could have been cut down.

Also, there are several things that Sylo does that don't make sense. They randomly capture citizens and incarcerate and interrogate them. It's explained a bit at the end, but it didn't really satisfy me. Other things (that would be spoilers) made me think, "No way. That's just not the way it would happen." I suspect the younger teen audience that Sylo is written for would probably have less trouble than I did with the "believe-ability" aspect.

The ending is very tense and exciting. Not much is resolved -- so be prepared for a huge cliffhanger. The next book, Storm, doesn't release until March of '14, just so you know. And it's a trilogy, so you can probably expect another cliffhanger from the second book too. I think kids who are willing to make the effort will really like Sylo. I just wish it wasn't so thick -- and unnecessarily so -- because many won't even pull it off the shelf when they see the thickness of the spine.

Published by Razorbill, July 2, 2013
eARC obtained from LibraryThing
407 pages

Rating: 3/5

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  1. That sucks this book doesn't have explanation to a lot of things. I really liked DJ's previous series when I was in middle school so maybe I'll try this one too. Thanks for the review!

  2. Ahhh not another cliffie! I just started this and it's going pretty well so far, but now I'm dreading the unbelievable aspects and the ending. Glad I know though, maybe it won't be as bad for me now. Awesome review Annette! :-)


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