Double Review: The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 and The Softwire: Betrayal on Orbis 2 by PJ Haarsma

Title: The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1
Author: PJ Haarsma
Genre: Middle grade science fiction
Publisher: Candlewick
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
First line: “I can see them! I can see the Rings of Orbis!” Theodore Malone cried, and a stampede of kids charged toward the observation deck.

Title: The Softwire: Betrayal on Orbis 2
Author: PJ Haarsma
Genre: Middle grade science fiction
Publisher: Candlewick
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
First line: “Here it comes!” Theodore Malone shouted.

This review was previously posted on my personal blog on March 24, 2008.

PJ Haarsma has created a completely new world in his science fiction series The Softwire. Johnny “JT” Turnbull is a softwire: a person who can enter and communicate with a computer in his mind. He arrives on the Rings of Orbis, along with dozens of other human children, where they are informed that they will become slaves of the Citizens, the upper-class that rules the planet.

JT’s talents as a softwire become public, which makes him a hot property, and gives him a chance to prove that he is more than just your average “knudnik.” The knudniks are humans and aliens that hold a status between slave and indentured servant on the Rings of Orbis. In order to gain his freedom, JT is expected to serve one rotation (year) on each of the four rings.

In The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1, JT discovers that there is something seriously wrong with the central computer that controls everything on Orbis, and his softwire abilities are pushed to the limit as he tries to figure out what the problem is, and how to fix it.

Virus on Orbis 1 was PJ Haarsma’s first book, and the writing is a little choppy. The world he creates is so unique, and vividly described, however, that I couldn’t put it down. I started the sequel right away.

Betrayal on Orbis 2, the quality of Haarsma’s writing increases considerably, and he manages to create another unique world in the mind of the reader. The world of Orbis 2 is very different from Orbis 1. JT didn’t think that things could get much worse than they were on Orbis 1, where he worked for Weegin, a bully and cheat. He was wrong: his new “guarantor,” Odran, is much worse – and JT is called on to use his softwire talent to communicate with creatures unlike anything he’s ever seen.

This series would be perfect for kids 6th grade and up. Boys will especially enjoy them, but there are some strong female characters, too, that will engage female readers. If you have younger kids that read at a higher level, keep in mind that there is some mild violence, but nothing I would consider gratuitous.

Bonus for Browncoats and fans of Castle: Check out PJ Haarsma’s web site for a video message from Nathan Fillion. :)

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4 Responses to Double Review: The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 and The Softwire: Betrayal on Orbis 2 by PJ Haarsma

  1. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks
    says:

    Castle??!! Did someone say Castle??!! I just started watching the series this summer as there was nothing new on…and I love it! I’m about half way through the 3rd season…almost caught up! My boyfriend actually surprised me with a gift of the two books that Castle “wrote”: Heat Wave and Naked Heat! I didn’t even know that tie in books had been published!

    I’ll have to come back and find that link when I get home…video is banned here at work.

    ? Melissa @ Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf
    Melissa´s last post ..Waterfall Wednesdays – Week 1

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Melissa – my friend bought me the two Castle books, too – but I haven’t read them yet. I love the show! We don’t have cable, though, so we’re waiting for season 3 to come out on DVD.

  2. Kathleen says:

    I think my son would have enjoyed these when he was a bit younger but now at 17 would probably not be as enthused!
    Kathleen´s last post ..Gone Phishin!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathleen – yes, he’s probably a bit old now. Although I enjoyed them, even at my age! LOL

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