Cover Image: Street Freaks

Street Freaks

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Member Reviews

I’m a fan of Brooks’ fantasy novels, but unfortunately this book just didn’t work for me. Though I think for the right person it would still be a fun and entertaining book.

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My experience with Terry Brooks and his writing has, until this book, been limited to the Magic Kingdom series. I realized in advance that this is rather uncommon as most people are way more familiar with Shannara. I have always loved the way he intertwines the real world with the fancy world that he creates. STREET FREAKS is set in a rather futuristic version of our current world where technology and science advancements have allowed us to create not only extensive AI but also to rebuild those who have been injured severely.
The pace of the story was great and it definitely held my interest by being a lot longer than I had originally expected. The primary storyline revolves around the fact that they were using teenagers/children to test out the aforementioned rebuilding of the bodies of those who have been severely injured, often against their will.

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It's been a while since I last read a novel by Terry Brooks. I'm quite familiar with the Shannara books, but this is very different - a dystopian future Los Angeles, and a YA novel at that. It's fast-paced, and quite engaging throughout. Interesting characters, too.

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Such a good book. I am a big fan of Terry Brooks, and his fantasy world. But this new world was just as well written, and completely different. I couldn't put this book down, I've recommended it to at least 10 friends, and have it up as an option in our book club. Great characters, flowing plot, twists and turns I didn't expect. I'm hooked and will keep reading this series.

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~ Re-submitted 13 Feb 2020 ~

Apologies for delayed feedback/review. Was double-checking my NG shelves against personal records when I noticed this title. Thought feedback submitted in Sept 2018 but guess not, so abbreviated version follows:

<b>Read/finished 26 Sept 2018 (★★)</b>
Nws my long-time/nostalgic affection & respect for Terry Brooks (hello, Shannara, Word and the Void & Landover), I never would’ve picked up ARC for STREET FREAKS had I known that it was YA. I didn’t recall *any* mention of such on GR at that time; perhaps I didn’t look hard enough?

Anyway, I have nothing against YA; in fact, my friends & I divide up genres so to screen for our legion of youngsters & extended circles. So whilst STREET FREAK wasn’t ‘bad’ in objective sense, I’m most definitely *not* target audience. Predominant ‘tweenie boy’ vibes, several ‘Fast and the Furious’-like scenes, and awkward—and IMVHO, obligatory—romantic interest. (FWIW, sought alternate opinion = 2 nephews weren’t overly enthralled.)

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This book was a bit of a mess and I felt like it was sending an inappropriate message to young men. It tells the story of Ash, a 17 year old boy thrust into the dangerous world of street racing when his father is murdered.

The Positives: I liked some of the body modifications that the Street Freaks had and thought that the world could be quite interesting, but it just wasn't fleshed out enough.

The Negatives: The plot was very generic and utterly predictable. This book did nothing new or original - instead, it felt like a regurgitation of any other dystopian YA book. I thought that the character of Ash read very young for his age and I really didn't like the way he persisted to push himself on Kay, despite her saying that they were never going to have a relationship. This was pretty problematic for me, because it reinforces the idea that boys know best what a woman wants and persistence is the key to a relationship. Not great!

Overall, even without the problematic relationship dynamics, this was an entirely generic book that I will instantly forget.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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I've been a huge Terry Brooks fan since I was a kid. I was excited that he was coming out with a book targeted to the YA group. There is a lot of really cool technology in this book but I found the plot to be a bit lacking. If you have seen the Fast and the Furious, then you have pretty much read this book. The characters were great. The writing was great as well. I just felt like the story could have been a bit more creative.

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I was very mistaken about what type of book this was. I don't normally read YA books, or SciFi books written to a YA audience. Its not a bad book, and I have tremendous respect for Terry Brooks as a writer, but I wasn't expecting this, and didn't finish the book. I didn't find the characters, or plot especially engaging for me, although teens will probably love it.

This just wasn't the book for me.

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It is with a heavy heart that I must admit that I could never quite get fully into this novel. Terry Brooks is a much beloved author of fantasy, namely the Shannara books. However, that writing style didn’t manage to hold my attention throughout what should have been a fast paced science fiction novel. The prose and passivity of passages bogged the storytelling down in certain areas, getting in the way of tension and pacing, and made getting into the story quite difficult to get into in the first chapter.

The story is set in a future America, a dystopian landscape that is quite familiar to YA readers. The book does feel very YA, which I’m glad about. It definitely hits the mark, but I always felt myself wanting a bit more from the story and the author.

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This is a Terry Brooks being, more or less, himself. Street Freaks starts like a teen book but ends somewhat more mature; but I wouldn't hesitate to give it someone 15 or older depending on maturity. I've been a moderate Terry Brooks since I was a child. As a kid of the 80's and a teen of the 90's there was significantly fewer fantasy and sci-fi books that weren't classics and had real action in them. So Terry Brooks, at the time, felt like he was a pretty good writer. Today I'd say he's mediocre. Unfortunately that is exactly what Street Freaks delivered was a typical okay book. I had hoped that in the sci-fi genre (a first for Brooks) that he would be able to up his game.

Fast and the Furious, in the Future
So basically Street Freaks is the movie Fast and the Furious (any of them, they are all basically the same premise) in a future with new shiny technology. It does have an added mystery element to it regarding our lead boy's father; but that is actually not really what the story is 'about'. It's actually just about these kids driving cars, evading police and rebelling against the status quo. Sound familiar? I bet you've seen this movie.

Cool Ideas
While Brooks had some cool technology ideas in Street Freaks; a good technological thought is not enough to keep me interested. There's some biological, genetic type upgrades that some of our characters have and the idea of a 'red zone' is certainly likely to be in our (near?) future. Humans have been building walls and acting elitist for thousands of years so that all seems like a same bet to predict. And while I like the set-up of how you can learn things, communicate with one another and (of course) drive super fast cars; I can honestly read something similar in any number of sci-fi books or short stories. There's just not enough here to engage me.

There was one really well done element of Street Freaks. That is it's focus on friendships and how tricky it can be to gain access into a 'group' of tight knit people. And what it can cost to have trust first and suspicion later. While friendship inherently requires trust there is a threshold moment in which you are risking something. Our lead teen learns this the hard way, as it always is with fiction, and Brooks accurately describes the feelings and emotions that hit many of us (teens or adults) when we are let down by others.

While the characters and their interactions are quite well done there's just something missing here. Some element or twist that would have surprised me; or maybe just more complexity. While there is a lot going on the reality is that it seems like there's a mystery that is, honestly, easily unraveled. I knew who was going to be the traitor (if you will) near the end and why. Maybe I just read too many books (lol) but I just wanted more from Brooks. As I said above this is not unusual of me to want more from Terry Brooks. Maybe my expectations are just too high for him and I need to come back to reality and realize he is a tolerable author. Not usually books I would DNF; but certainly not ones I will remember in the future or tell everyone about. In fact as I'm writing this review I feel like in five minutes I'll have already forgotten about this book and my life moved on.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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I chose this purely down to the Author and have read a lot of his previous books.
This was slightly disappointing with the characters being weak and not really building up an emotional pull.
There is plenty of action though.
Definitely a book for young adults.

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Street Freaks
Terry Brooks
Year Published: 2018
Publisher: Grim Oak Press
Genre: Young Adult ~ Science Fiction ~ Fantasy

Stars: 1 and a half, but I’ll make it 2

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc through Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. The image header used is my own and the link at the top of the post links back to the book’s Goodreads page. All quotes given in the review are from the e-arc and therefore might not be accurate. All opinions expressed are my own.

This looked extremely interesting on Netgalley – science fiction, written by the (apparently) stellar Terry Brooks (I’ve only read the screenplay of Hook but my dad always raves about Shannara Chronicles), so I wanted to give it a try. Heck, even the reviews I looked at it spoke positively!

And then it slowly started to become boring. It’s not that Ash (the main character) is boring, but he’s whiny. And while that is relatable in terms of him being a teenager, there’s a difference between a realistic whiny teenager and a jerk. And honestly, I’ll rather have a boring character than a whiny one. He wants to find out the truth about his father and what happened, but then forgets that it’s ever happened as soon as Cay comes in.

Now, Cay is a pleasure synth – which means she’s sort of like a robot? And her only role is to please men (first of all, how heteronormative. And then secondly what a way to write a female character). The other (secondary) characters also sometimes don’t treat her like she’s a normal person, they only see her for what she’s ‘made for’ – which just made me mad.

But now I’m going to rant about all the ways Ash annoyed me (towards Cay and how he felt about her and thought about her). So Ash is super entranced by Cay (he’s also seventeen – and while I’m not being rude about teenage love; I think it’s also true that teenage love can be.. immature – or well, Ash definitely made it seem immature); and while you could make the argument that she’s a pleasure synth and is therefore created to be looked at by men (which is how you can clearly tell this book is written by a man) but I’d rather you didn’t as it’s a really stupid argument that you clearly made up in a few seconds. And the way he talks about her puts her on a pedestal WHEN SHE CLEARLY DOESN’T WANT TO.

Next will be a couple of quotes I found re Ash and Cay that just annoyed me so much I had to put the book down for a few hours.

"She (Cay) is knowledgeable about both, and as they converse, he begins to see her more and more as a regular girl."

So what was she before? A painting? A table?

"She eats with small, dainty bites, and her posture is perfect."

LisTEN, if a guy ever said that about me I would boot him through the rugby poles.

"She is giving him a gift. She is giving him herself."

She’s helPING you WASh not signing her ENTIre life over to you!!

And even she tells him to stop thinking about her, he doesn’t, which was just so annoying to read. Like why did we have to read from his perspective?

I hoped the book would feature more street racing than it did. If you ask me, they should’ve focused more on the street racing and not added the unnecessary romance bit (Cay could’ve still come in, as I liked her, it could’ve just been without the romance).

The main plot (as the street racing was an underutilised subplot and the romance an unwanted subplot) just… (to me) fell flat and went nowhere. By the end of the novel, I barely remembered what had happened and why the main character was there. And in a novel, whether it be contemporary, or epic fantasy, or a sci-fi like this – the plot has to be structured. It has to be well-thought out and it has to connect throughout the story and it has to remain true. Otherwise what you get is a story that doesn’t follow through, one that doesn’t make sense.

That’s all I thought of the book (mostly because I didn’t want to keep on thinking about the book) Have you read this or saw it? Do you think I was right? Are you also really upset and frustrated with how some male authors write female characters? Tell me in the comments!

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This book gets a "maybe" from me. I'm not familiar with Terry Brooks' writing so I'm not sure if this is his consistent style. It definitely reminded me of Escape from New York, one of my favorite movies, so will definitely read his work again.
The main story in the book is about a teenager who leaves his home to hide with a group of teenagers that hang at a place called Street Freaks. The young man has fled his home after his father's warning and watched as authorities destroyed his home and belongings. He does not know why he is running, just that he must. The story is how he discovers what will now be his "normal" while trying to stay alive. I did enjoy the book but will hold off the enthusiasm to the next(?) one.

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I like some of his previous work, but Street Freaks falls flat for me. Interesting concept, but the written perspective doesn't suit the book, in my opinion, and the author comes up with concepts and throws them at you without really explaining what these futuristic concepts are. It made me feel lost and i struggled to keep reading because of it, but i was motivated due to wanting to know why the main character had to take the ProLx medication. I rate it at least three stars, though, because it was an interesting concept, i just feel like it cojld have been executed better.

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Thank you to Net galley and the publisher for providing me with an e copy of this book.

I may be slightly biased as Terry Brooks is one of my favourite authors, but this book was really enjoyable! I live his writing style and the world and characters were well built.

Great little standalone Sci fi!

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This is a teen book that is not advertised as such. There is no doubt about the target audience. Whilst there may be occasional violence and intimations of passion, the language used is light and simple. It is an easy read but not a gripping one. As with other features of the book, the tension is superficial and easily resolved. I'm not quite sure why these are common characteristics of novels aimed at youth; clearly, writers believe their audience to lack the desire for any depth and are merely drawn to an action-based plot.

The central character is quite shallow and drifts from scene to scene driven by circumstance rather than any focussed feeling. He experiences quite dramatic events without any real consequence. As such, he is merely the focus of the plot rather than someone that the reader can empathise with. The world building is interesting and reasonably well fleshed out but offers little that has not been done before.

The storyline offers a steady pace with a good variety of both location and event. Detail is provided where necessary and this helps to make the situation understandable.

As a teen read it is satisfactory, but for those looking for a rich world with a complex plot, I'm afraid they should look elsewhere.

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Author Terry Brooks has the ability as a writer to make the essence of a word stand out and be both modern and retro, naturalistic and impressionistic. His latest is no different. But like one of my favorite novels “Magic Kingdom For Sale – Sold”, it exists on its own merits. It is its own world both lithe but insistent with character, well drawn but individual. Unlike the “Shannara” precepts which is its own world, his new novel “Street Freaks” [Terry Brooks/Grim Oak Press/384pgs] creates something new in its urban perception while still integrating Brook’s signature storytelling style. Ash, the lead, is a catalyst of sorts but only to allow us into the world and anchor our perceptions. It is those around him that provide the heart in many ways but through their own perception. Much like what “Battle Angel Alita” is striving to be, Brooks brings it into a point of view that both young and older can enjoy. The background of jacked up racers is just the construct. The aspect of Ash when he is learning to drive with T.J. or driving with Cay gives all the perceptions that “Fast & Furious” delivers while providing an undeniably cinematic construct and underlying thrust of narrative. There are also many parallels to say “Rogue One” as well in terms of a family bonded together even in death. The structural points including the slow reveal of truth but also the revelation of love (done very subtly by the way) in the essence of Cay comes off very natural.

Again that basis of old school storytelling balanced with a modern sensibility makes the story work. The technology Brooks introduces is just effective enough without having to explain too much. The notion of memory is a big plot direction as well as a metaphor in terms of how it plays, how it is remembered and how it feels (much in the way certain parts of “Inception” propel that story). The race day and Oracle sequences and how those play out work as well as any big blockbuster set piece whereas aspects like in the cottage either mid story or through the end can play like a old 40s film or Hitchcock movie. An actress related to this writer recently related that female roles are moving back to the ability to be feminine and strong “like they were in the 40s” instead of what she said the recent trend towards “girly”. “Street Freaks” adds a perception of that with gusto with women taking the lead and action in most of the story in much a similar fashion. “Street Freaks” is an original world with homages to what came before it but continues to show Terry Brooks has not lost any of that magic and still propels and shows his ability to create a lived and breathed in world with characters both engaging and dynamic in an entertaining, emotional and cinematic way.


By Tim Wassberg

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Personaggi stereotipati e una storia banale: la prima incursione (non dichiarata) di Terry Brooks nella letteratura YA è un fallimento sotto tutti i fronti, primo fra tutto l'intrattenimento.

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In this new series Brooks takes us into a totally different direction than what we are use to from him and he doesn't disappoint. He has no problem delivering a wonderfully well composed story that is set in Los Angeles but not the one most of us know. You go on a journey with a young man named Ash who must figure out the clues his father left him before he died. Where will the clues lead and what role will he be left with when it all comes together, those are the questions you will ask yourself as you delve deeper into the psyche of the book and the world it holds within. Brooks had no problem in changing genres and as much as I love his fantasy work I look forward to more of his science fiction writings.

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A wild ride that will keep you on your toes. This book was pretty dang cool. I'm used to Terry Brooks writing epic fantasies, so this was a new adventure for me. True to Brooks fashion, there was a deep character filled world that seemed real and wild. I loved the whole premise about the street racing and the world around it. I was excited to read that part and see what was going to happen. I had the excitement of pod racing from Star Wars. What I didn't like was the fact that the whole street racing thing was overlooked. There is a big buildup though out the story and then nothing really happened. The scene was short and lackluster. I wanted more.

The rest of the story was wild and crazy. A bunch of kids experimented on and altered, then discarded because they are deemed worthless. There are people out to kill the main character and you really don't know who's behind it until the very end.

A great read for scifi fans and fantasy fans alike.

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