A teenage hacktivist and her online comrades encounter danger and betrayal when they begin investigating a fashion mogul’s business operations in Hong Kong.
Lian leads a double life. Offline, she is her parents’ “Little Panda,” the studious, obedient daughter of an affluent family; online, she is Komiko, a trusted member of 06/04, a pseudonymous group of hackers dedicated to exposing government and corporate wrongdoing. Her two worlds collide with a vengeance after a corpse washes up on Big Wave Bay Beach, as Lian soon stumbles upon a link between the dead girl and one of her father’s business partners, Rand Harrison. Her situation becomes even more complicated when Harrison’s smarmy son, Matt, transfers into her school, where their paths cross regularly. Lian’s readiness to risk her own safety to secure evidence of Harrison’s crimes makes for a fast-paced story, marked by narrow escapes and high-speed chases. Alas, the technological action fizzles in comparison, as Lian’s elite hacker research appears to consist mostly of basic Web searches. In addition, the novel’s Hong Kong feels more like a movie set than a lived-in city, and it doesn’t help that even the non-American characters often speak colloquially American dialogue.
This bland techno-thriller has plenty of action but not quite enough style. (Thriller. 13-18)