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Max Mooth-Cyber Sleuth and the Case of the Zombie Virus    by Stephen Kogon order for
Max Mooth-Cyber Sleuth and the Case of the Zombie Virus
by Stephen Kogon
Order:  USA  Can
iUniverse, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Max Mooth is a 19-year-old Berkeley graduate who, with the help of his eight-year-old partner Mr. Z, likes to nab computer virus creators before the FBI can. While most people (except for Agent Stone of the FBI) appreciate what Max does, his arch-nemesis, Xefland Aurcracker, 23-year-old self-made millionaire and Berkeley expellee, is intent on bringing him down.

The villain plans to frame Max for releasing a fatal (to computers) virus and to steal his new girlfriend, Abby. Max, with the help of Mr. Z and Abby, tries to track down the computer that hosts the Zombie Virus, in order to clear his name and stop Aurcracker from killing the innocent computers of the world. While Stephen Kogon's short, action-packed chapters make fast reading for middle-reader boys who are big fans of computers, they can get tiring for others. Max's dialogue is laden with computer puns - many of them induce groans but some went right over my head. Also, for what is supposed to be a detective story and not a fantasy, many situations are unrealistic. Kogon does include an important message, as Max tries to get Mr. Z to stop acting so grown-up and enjoy his childhood. But, while older readers may appreciate this, those in the book's targeted age group might feel alienated by the message if they empathize at all with Mr. Z.

Although his characters are unrealistic, Kogon creates an interesting parallel between the Zombie Virus and the way Aurcracker handles those who hinder him in his schemes. While this development comes to light late in the story, it shows an imaginative symbolism that is well-crafted even if it may seem a bit inane to most readers.

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