Review Blog

Oct 27 2014

Terror kid by Benjamin Zephaniah

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Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471401770
(Ages: 14+) Recommended. Justice. Terrorism. Hacktivism. Cyber. Rico Federico is a teenage boy who is a die-hard computer hobbyist, having four computers of his own built from discarded hardware, and hacks websites constantly. He lives in Birmingham, London, and is constantly under threat due to riotous protesters damaging property and looting. His friends are among the protesters but Rico believes that non-violent methods are the most effective and refuses to partake. This does not stop the police from constantly wrongly accusing and arresting him since he is always 'in the wrong place at the wrong time'. Rico knows it's his Spanish heritage that keeps getting him into trouble and his father is quite vocal in defending him against the racial discrimination. Rico meets a protestor called Speech who knows of Rico's tech-savvy talents and offers Rico a payment of 2000 pounds to create a website for a friend. Speech offers him more tasks until eventually he asks Rico to hack into a local police station's computer network and temporarily disable it for 10 minutes as a means of non-violent protest. Unsure at first, Rico reluctantly obliges. He is proud of himself for aiding a noble cause until the day of the protest when a student at his school is notified her father was killed in a bombing that took place at the same police station. It is revealed that they were unable to x-ray a delivered package due to their network being disabled and the package was in fact an explosive that then killed numerous officers. Rico has to go into hiding because the authorities now believe that Rico Federico is a mastermind terrorist planning with the likes of Al Qaeda.
Terror kid is a story that involves the reader by giving an insight into the falsely accused and illustrates the hardships that are endured by individuals of different cultures in a post 9/11 world due to racial discrimination and ignorance. The reader feels sympathetic for Rico due to his helpful nature and naivety being taken advantage of. The Federico family feel like real, authentic characters that are victims of the corruptness of the system. Rico's father is an activist at heart and displays this by constantly questioning authority, especially when that authority is wrongfully harming his son. It is entertaining to see that Rico has inherited these traits and reaffirms the theory that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. It is an excellent narrative that is not afraid to tackle any taboos or controversial subject matter.
Corey Joyce (Student)

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