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The Softwire: Betrayal on Orbis 2

P J Haarsma

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (3 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Candlewick Press

Published : 2008

Copyright : P J Haarsma 2008

ISBN-10 : HB 0-7636-2710-0
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-7636-2710-2

Publisher's Write-Up

On Orbis 2, Johnny Turnbull has a new home and a new job, one that pushes his softwire abilities to painful limits. JT is the only one who can communicate with the Samirans, large aquatic aliens who have cooled the crystals on Orbis for nearly two thousand rotations. But as the Samirans' work rule ostensibly comes to a close, they have grown dangerously agitated, and JT must find out why. What he learns is that the prosperity of Orbis is built on a brutal system of enforced labour - and that everyone seems to have something to hide. Can JT appease the Samirans before their threat is realized? And if he doesn't, will his friends survive?

In this second episode of The Softwire, PJ Haarsma takes readers on another lightning-paced, cyber-fuelled ride through the amazing universe he introduced in The Softwire: Virus On Orbis 1.

About the Author:
PJ Haarsma has been gazing at the stars and wondering what's out there his whole life. After a successful career as a commercial photographer, he finally decided to write about it. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by KOS (100508) Rating (9/10)
Review by Richelle (060408) Rating (9/10)
Review by Denise Gary (180308) Rating (9/10)

Review by KOS
Rating 9/10
JT is a kid with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He lost his parents before he was even born, and then found himself and his friends pretty much sold into slavery. He gets teased by other kids because he's different and he suffers from self doubt. There's something about JT that makes him special and unique but he doesn't want to be that way, he just wants to be normal like everyone else so he sees it as a burden rather than a gift. JT starts to overcome his self doubt and uses his special abilities to make a real difference but not before making a big mistake.

I was really looking forward to reading Betrayal on Orbis 2 after having read the first book in the Softwire series Virus on Orbis 1.

I love anything to do with IT and I love Science Fiction. Science
Fiction is a great way of escaping into another world where you don't have to worry about what's going on in the real one. These books have both and PJ Haarsma writes in such a way that I find once I pick it up, I can't put it down. I've recommended Virus on Orbis 1 to a few people and they all seem to love it as much as I do. Now I can't wait for part 3!

Oh, and there's a great RPG game that goes along with this series at that in addition to being a lot of fun might inspire kids who don't read to get into the books.

KOS (10th May 2008)

Review by Richelle
Rating 9/10
I couldn't wait to get my hands on this second book of the Softwire series. I was so excited to continue reading about the adventures of JT and his friends and little sister. PJ Haarsma did not let me down!

I loved the entire book from start to end. As the children are moved to the second ring to begin working their next rotation, their lives continue to be filled with adventure and mysteries to be solved. Orbis 2 is much different than Orbis 1 and has such places as underground tunnels with treasures and danger in them.

The children learn how to work through challenging issues such as taking care of a younger sibling in a strange place and handling bullies and the caretakers who are mean to them.

What I enjoy most about PJ's writing is his ability to create and describe unique alien beings, some friendly, some scary, and all quite interesting. The alien gadgets he comes up with are just as exciting to me. There are several in this book that are fun to dream about having.

I was surprised how much I like the Softwire series as a grandmother and I'm sure I would have loved it just as much as a young adult. It was really hard to put down once I got started!
Richelle (6th April 2008)

Review by Denise Gary
Rating 9/10
The Softwire: Betrayal on Orbis 2 by PJ Haarsma continues the exciting adventures of the space orphans first portrayed in The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1. The action begins in the very first sentence and continues throughout the fast-paced book, but not without quiet moments of reflection interspersed to bring real emotional depth to the story.

In the first instalment of this 4 book series, the protagonist, JT, and his fellow band of space travelling orphans, find themselves sold into slavery on Orbis 1, one of four alien-constructed rings situated around a wormhole used for trade. JT is discovered to have a very special ability not found in humans, which induces both fear and greed among the aliens living on the Rings of Orbis. It is how this gift is used or abused that propels The Softwire novels forward.

In Virus on Orbis 1, JT struggles to deal with the ability he initially resents, but then learns to embrace that which makes him different. In Betrayal on Orbis 2, JT's maturation is highly evident as he takes on the burdens his uniqueness brings upon him. He comes to realize that powerful capability brings with it powerful responsibility to all life surrounding him, good or bad. Compassion is this hero's true special ability.

Despite the narrative taking place on an imaginative world foreign to our own, everything about the emotions and reactions of the characters is identifiable to our own lives here on Earth. Most interesting is the downward spiral of some of the children as their slavery begins to take its toll on them. This is a realistic portrayal of the sadness and desperation that harsh conditions slowly bring about in people, but also the triumph of the human spirit to keep going despite it all. The winners in this story are the ones who move forward and look toward the hope they see for their future. The author never hits the reader in the face with these revelations, nor makes them too heavy for a young person, but they are there for the reader to feel as deeply as they are capable.

Although the plot revolves around JT discovering and stopping a betrayal of terrible consequences, there are smaller instances of loyalties betrayed among the children, even by the flawed protagonist. The consequences of these smaller betrayals are profound. The book is also filled with good, old-fashioned action as the various betrayals deepen. One scene in particular caused me to literally jump out of my chair in thrilled disbelief. I felt as though I was in a movie.

I look forward to the third instalment of this series with great anticipation. Readers of all ages should enjoy this tale of a young boy who lights the way for others with his compassion, intelligence, perseverance and positive spirit.
Denise Gary (18th March 2008)

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