________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 8 . . . . October 25, 2013


Assured Destruction. (Assured Destruction Series).

Michael F. Stewart.
Ottawa, ON: Non Sequitur Press, 2013.
183 pp., trade pbk. & eBook, $8.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-0-98126994-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-98126993-1 (eBook).

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



In every kid's hard drive are pieces of themselves, which, if someone is prepared to take the time, can be puzzled back together to live again in what I call the Shadownet. That someone happens to be me.

Hobby? Art form? Sad, pathetic plea to garner friendship. Even virtually? Sure, I am guilty on all counts. Maybe I'm even addicted to it. I can pick apart the private lives of others and don't need to worry about what they think about me, or whether the profiles I create for them are going to walk out one day and never come back like my dad did. Shadownet is my permanent family. The only thing I can be sure will stick around.

"Janus, why aren't you working?" The voice of my mother rings with the sing-song tone she uses when she senses I'm about to do something wrong. She's in the back playing with money.

"I am working. Don't harass your unpaid labor," I return in my own sing-song. She has a beautiful voice, though, and mine is like that woman's fingernails on the casing.

"Room and board qualifies as paid, deary," she continues in a fun, easygoing lilt. I love my mom.

Sixteen-year-old Janus works for her single mother in their business after school. Assured Destruction is a small firm specializing in the guaranteed shredding and destruction and recycling of old hard drives. At least that is what Janus is supposed to do with them. Instead, she has been known to take certain drives of people she recognizes and then to create new mirror identities out there in the virtual world, her Shadownet. If the authorities ever found out, she would be in serious trouble, and she and her mother would probably lose the business.

      The tale covers a wide range of topics. At school, Janus is torn between the interest in her being expressed by two very different boys. At the request of friends, she has been known to engage in what she feels are minor acts of cyber-bullying. She does not approve of her mother's new, older, boyfriend. And to make matters even worse, someone is suddenly waging cyber attacks against those same people whose hard drives she has used to create her Shadownet. Trouble at school due to her lack of applying herself to her in-class and homework is compounded by the sinister forces that seem to be tracking her. Being stubborn, and much too clever for her own good, instead of going to the police, or even her mother, and confessing what is going on, Janus decides to track down the villains by herself. Of course, she runs into serious trouble.

      A story that turns out that all's-well in the end, while leaving room for sequels, at 183 pages, divided into 25 chapters, Assured Destruction falls into the Young Adult Mystery category. There is a page of author bio and one of acknowledgments. Given the current interest in the subject of cyber-bullying, it is a topical tale for the reader interested in the virtual world and what sorts of difficulty someone could find themselves in when they don't follow the rules.


Ronald Hore, a member of several writing groups, pens medieval-style fantasy and fantasy detective stories in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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