Blue Screen of Death by J. Steven Young

Bullies in school? Weird grandma? Missing Dad? Yep, there *is* an app for that.

BSODTitle:  Blue Screen of Death
Author:  J. Steven Young
SeriesHashtag Magic Book 01
Publish Date:  October 9, 2015
Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy

Publisher’s DescriptionMagic has found a new medium and now there truly is an APP for everything!

Colby Stevens was only six when his magic was hobbled, though he had no idea. The ingenuity of a child can never be contained. When he turned sixteen however, all the memories he had from his early childhood began to make sense. He got his magic back, but he can only control it through the use of technology and an app called #Magic.

Colby has spent years subjected to the torment of a bully who at one time was his best friend. His biggest enemy is himself, not his bully or the forces who seek him out. He has a new best friend now however, and together they are beginning the exploration of a lifetime. They are rediscovering a magic that has been waiting for eons to be released. But the magic is not the only thing that has been waiting.

While Colby explores his new abilities and a strange little blue man, who assigns himself teacher and guide, an old war begins anew. Magic came to this Earth before man recorded his history, and the bringers of that magic want nothing more than to regain access to it, by whatever means necessary.

Colby learns about his family line and the twisted history that has thrust him into the center of a battle born of hatred and ignorance, something he knows all too well. He will fight the power, fight the bullies, and most of all… fight himself.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

Hi blog friends! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: writing is hard. I’m an author myself so I can say that with the utmost truth I’ve ever spoken. Writers put their souls into every word, they grind themselves into pieces trying to come up with worlds, characters, and plotlines that will hopefully knock someone’s socks off. It’s a struggle. It’s an inner battle and it’s very, very real despite how fictional it may seem.

You’re probably wondering why I’m saying this. I’m a reviewer and I’m supposed to be honest. Well, I’m going to be. But I’ll mention again that I’m also a writer. And even though I don’t enjoy something I read, I find it very difficult to be brutally honest when I personally know how much sweat and blood goes into something so special.

What I liked: I’m impressed by the author’s ability to create this magical world that’s a mix of mythology, technology, aliens, and magic. It had a creative premise, telling the story about a boy who discovers he’s got unlimited power with no control; so he designs an app on his tech to enable him control. I also enjoyed the quirky characters that fill the pages, especially the super snarky and smarter-than-thou sister. And the talking “cat.” I liked that Colby seemed to be the only one who didn’t know what was going on, which I often found amusing. Even the crazy Nana seemed to be in on the secrets.

So that’s the good stuff. Since you’ll see my rating below, you’ll see that I probably didn’t rate it the way the author hoped (especially since he sent me so much swag). No, I wasn’t fond of this story. That doesn’t mean I hate it and that I’m not going to read the sequels, cause I am (first book is always the hardest and second ones always improve after all). I’m going to present the main problem I had with Blue Screen of Death and then move on because anything else is going to sound too critical.

What I didn’t like: This is a book marketed as young adult…when it should be upper middle-grade. Colby is probably the most awkward character I’ve ever read before; he’s angry a lot and he tends to get cowed by everything. This is a typical pre-teen trait as the kids figure themselves out. The book is often silly, which is more of a MG characteristic as well. I was about thirty pages in when I realized it had been mislabeled as YA and when I began to picture it as MG instead, it worked out better. In fact, really, the only thing the author would need to change would be Colby’s age and knocking out the cursing. Easy stuff, really.

badge2v4Another minor thing I noticed was the lack of flow. Some scenes would go by with a major event and then it would just pass by without acknowledgement from the character. I feel like there’s no growth from Colby because he’s distracted by too many other plotlines within the story. This book just needs more structure is all.

Like I said, I intend to read the sequel and the upcoming sequel as well. Writers grow. I hope that this one can take my advice and make his books shine.

Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

What I liked: The characters are interesting. Nana is by far my favorite character. She is not your typical sweet old lady. She cannot cook to save her life, has interesting nicknames for her grandchildren *cough cough fart-blossom* and tells it like it is. The rest of the characters are interesting as well. Colby goes from zero to hero in the eyes of his fellow students when he stands up to Jasper the school bully and also becomes good at the game Runes. Another character that made me smile and giggle throughout the book is Fizzlewink, the talking blue cat that is actually a being from another dimension – known as a muse in our world.

badge2v4What I didn’t like: It was very choppy and there were still unanswered questions like the fact that everyone knew Colby was special except for Colby. Also it would have been interesting to include a few of the runes in a glossary so we know what specific ones look like. It is very slow and hard to get through in some places and doesn’t really pick up until the last 100 pages or so. There are also a few mechanical errors like misspelled words or the wrong word being used or misused punctuation. Another issue I had was the fact that it is marketed as a young adult novel but reads like it is middle grade.

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

For more magic and characters who find out they are more than they appear, check out (if you haven’t done so already) the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the Inkworld series by Cornelia Funke, or His Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


About Kat Mandu

I'm an urban fantasy and young-adult paranormal writer. I love to cook, rock out to music, and read as much as I can get my hands on. Always believe in your dreams and pursue them no matter what the cost. If you believe in it, it's worth every chance you take.

Posted on May 25, 2016, in Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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