The premise here is awesome: a computer virus that goes sentient and grows so fast that it spawns entire ecosystems that fracture and fight each other. This was my favorite of the series, by far. My only wish was that it was longer and developed the characters further, including the AIs. There was so much here worth exploring and digging into that I almost wish Neal Stephenson wrote this book.
Leon Tsarev is a high school student set on getting into a great college program, until his uncle, a member of the Russian mob, coerces him into developing a new computer virus for the mob’s botnet – the slave army of computers they used to commit digital crimes.
The evolutionary virus Leon creates, based on biological principles, is successful – too successful. All the world’s computers are infected. Everything from cars to payment systems and, of course, computers and smart phones stop functioning, and with them go essential functions including emergency services, transportation, and the food supply. Billions may die.
But evolution never stops. The virus continues to evolve, developing intelligence, communication, and finally an entire civilization. Some may be friendly to humans, but others are not.
Leon and his companions must race against time and the military to find a way to either befriend or eliminate the virus race and restore the world’s computer infrastructure.