imagesThe Discovery of Socket Greeny —  Tony Bertauski

Rarely do I find a book that keeps me up at night.   Tony Bertauski’s The Discovery of Socket Greeny is that book.

When saving the world involves jacking into the virtualmode, with your two best friends, fighting a genetically perfect super-warrior, while the virtual world around you is being flushed down the toilet by an overload of random data, and if you go down, you don’t get to go back to your body. It’s game over.

Meet Socket Greeny, he’s sixteen has a crush on his best friend, not that he’s aware of that, and can stop time.  He’s not aware of that either.  A shadowy group finds stopping time a valuable commodity in keeping the human race safe (mostly from themselves).

A threat against humanity is rising, and gaining strength quickly. This threat comes from virtual reality and must be stopped there.  Paladin Nation is not convinced that Socket is the answer.  If anything they believe him to be a loose cannon.  He doesn’t know or understand his power and turning him loose could prove fatal for everyone.  Socket? He just wants to go back to his friends and live a normal life. Not that he knows what that is either.

In the end, he gets to go back to his friends and suddenly there’s that whole virtual world, with the super-warrior and the random data, and the threat to the entire planet catastrophe.  Suddenly, I couldn’t put the book down.  There was too much going on, too many variables to keep track of.  There was no slack in the pace allowing me to catch my mental breath and try to put the pieces together to see where this was going.

I’ve never done very well at keeping track of what is YA and what is not.  It really doesn’t matter to me if your hero is flawed and 16 or flawed and 39.  If anything, flawed youth is much easier to relate to.  We’ve all been teenagers, had zits, been in love and felt like a freak.  Youth is something we know and understand, struggles we can internalize.

In youth, we understand the uncertainty and indecision, the uneasiness of leadership.  We’ve been there.  We can even be sympathetic to the youthful antagonist.  We can still see the origins of his corruption. A child sociopath incurs not our wrath but our sympathy.  Someone, somewhere, failed this child and in somehow we find in it a way to forgive him his sins.

This is that story. When the forces of evil are on the verge of total victory and the forces for good are stretched too thin to hold back the tide that threatens to overwhelm humanity, Socket finds a way to step up. He finds a way to get around his obstacles, real and imagined. He finds in himself what’s always been there. Socket Greeny goes where he must, thinking he knows the risks, though the risks are far beyond his knowing.  He prevails, saving the lives of his friends and the human race at the same time.

When last I checked, The Discovery of Socket Greeny was free on Amazon. The Socket Greeny Saga including parts 2 and 3 is available as well.