AFTER finishing Urban Outlaws, I thought to myself, “Haven’t I read something like this before?” Sure enough, I recalled Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series, which I had read during my teenage years.
The main concept of this book is pretty much the same as the one in the Alex Rider books: teenage spies running around with high-tech gadgets while trying to take down world-domination wannabes.
Teenage spy stories seem to be trending these days.
What makes this book different is that instead of one teenage super spy, you get five teenage super spies, namely Jack, Charlie, Slink, Obi, and Wern. I feel that author Peter Jay Black makes the kids look a little too good for their age, but that’s what makes a good story, right?
Putting aside the fact that they carry extremely advanced gadgets – like a miniaturised remote controlled helicopter and state-of-the-art tracking devices – the teens are equipped amazing skills like network hacking, computer programming, and free-running, to name just a few.
What’s better? They live in a bunker hidden under the streets of London.
They call themselves Urban Outlaws, and style themselves as modern-day Robin Hoods, hacking into the bank accounts of filthy-rich criminals and moving money to various charities – while keeping some themselves, of course.
But then the Outlaws pick a target who is rather smarter than the average crook and stumble upon secrets that threaten not only their lives but also those around them.
I didn’t particularly like how the story ended with a cliffhanger with not a hint about what happens next. Of course, there is a sequel, Urban Outlaws: Blackout, and it’s due next year.
I couldn’t help but feel that some of the challenges were too easily solved, with little or no twists to the plot.
Character development was also below par, I felt, with the exception of Jack who is complex enough to have a slight change of heart at the end of the story. Though, in the author’s defence, the book is pretty short. And at least the characters stayed true to their own personalities.
While the story was a tad predictable, I honestly enjoyed the continuous conflicts the author had to offer. In fact, I couldn’t put the book down!
The amount of detail that Peter Jay Black puts into his work certainly impressed me.
For example, the Outlaw’s infiltration methods has a numerous number of phases. Despite all the meticulous details, Black still managed to keep me up to speed with the plot, without any confusion.
But in the end, the Urban Outlaws simply puts a group of cool teenage characters together with advanced gadgets and throws some fast-paced action into the mix – in other words, this book feels like another Alex Rider novel with just a few differences here and there.