Sylo by D.J. MacHale

Sylo by D.J. MacHale
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Group)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (407 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

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.

Sylo is a heart-thumping adrenaline rush that totally overwhelms a reader with its scope, suspense and its amazing storytelling voice. I was left wide-eyed and boggled at the end.

I’m not sure where to start. Sylo started off small and innocuous. It was the things the young hero paid attention to that led to his questioning the things around him. It slowly built as things started happening and one piece of the puzzle snapped together with another piece. The whole picture doesn’t become clear until almost the very last page but along the way the author kept me engaged, energized and connected to his characters. There is a definite connection between Tucker, Quinn and Tori; so much so that what happens to them had me gasping, choking up, smiling or worrying on their behalf.

There is death. Sometimes grisly, sometimes mysteriously but no one remains untouched by loss in this story. It’s that grittiness of reality that kept me glued to the book’s pages. Once the book gets started with Tucker and friends having to make some big decisions, I think about the fifth chapter or so, make sure you leave plenty of time for reading. I am glad I did because I didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t. The writing is that intense, focused, clear and very effective. Dialogue was key – nothing was out of place or extraneous. I learned what Tucker learned when he learned it. It gave me that helpless feeling as much as he must have felt helpless at times. There was nothing anyone could do to avert what eventually happened. And to think, someone close to the hero couldn’t be trusted. That hurt. I was so sad for him on his behalf.

I think Tori sort of likes Tucker and that bit of hopefulness is what I hope the author will eventually expand upon. I understand this is the first book in a trilogy and for an opening salvo, Sylo was extremely effective. It ends with the first step accomplished and more questions being raised. The author’s writing is powerful enough to make me, without a doubt, want to find out what happens next, how far the evil plot goes and who truly are the good guys and bad guys. Are they really UFO’s? Where did the technology come from? The mysteries alluded to in this first book are intriguing and a great hook.

The hero is committed to finding out the truth, and I’m committed to reading about his journey. Sylo is a novel filled with incredible storytelling that should not be missed. If a reader is looking for something that reminds them of the old T.V. series, The X-Files, this book will please. If a reader enjoys a book about a teenager that shows promise for the kind of man he’ll become because of what he survives, and I’m not talking acne and bad dates, then this book will amaze. I’m so glad I read it. It blew me away.

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