Book Review: SYLO by D.J. MacHale

Does Tucker Pierce have what it takes to be a hero when the U.S. military quarantines his island?

Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.

It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world—and all before tomorrow is too late. 

My Rating:  3 cupcakes

Although the Pendragon series has interested me for quite some time, I have yet to get around to reading it. When I saw that MacHale had a new novel out, I just had to give it a try – after all, it isn’t nearly as much of a commitment as a ten book series.

SYLO is certainly an interesting read. Within the first five pages, a football player dies suddenly — and that’s only the beginning. Between mysterious viruses, a quarantined island, and an invasion by a branch of the navy that no one has ever heard of, Pemberwick Island has its fair share of secrets. Nothing is what it seems, and you’re never quite sure who to trust.

Unfortunately, despite its strong start, the story progressed far too slowly for my liking. I began to lose interest at about page 50, and didn’t become engaged in the plot again until halfway through the novel. The mystery is drawn out for far too long; a lot of my questions weren’t answered until the very end, while many weren’t answered at all. After reading through ~400 pages, I still don’t really know anything about the quarantine and SYLO, which simultaneously frustrates me and makes me want to read the sequel.

I didn’t really connect with any of the characters in SYLO, as my lack of reaction during a certain scene can certainly attest to. Tucker, Tori and Quinn are flawed and realistic characters who are equally important to the plot in different ways, though they’re not particularly memorable. I neither liked them nor disliked them; they were just there.

Overall, SYLO is an action-packed read with an intriguing premise. Despite my complaints, there were many enjoyable parts of this book, so I’ll likely pick up the sequel at some point.

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