Young Adult - Sci-Fi
260 Pages
Reviewed on 10/29/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

John Darryl Winston is a Detroit native and public school educator. He created the coming of age hero's journey as part of a creative writing and 'Boys Read' program. He is a graduate of The Recording Institute of Detroit, Wayne State University, The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan, and he recently received an MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University.

He has written songs with and for Grammy winner David Foster and record mogul Clive Davis. He has been a recording artist on Arista and Polygram records, and has written and/or produced songs for Gerald Levert, Gerald Alston, and many others. Winston currently lives with his daughter, Marquette, in Michigan and intends to acquire an African Grey parrot one day when he conquers his irrational fear of birds.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

IA: B.O.S.S. is a riveting science fiction novel by author John Darryl Winston, and continues the story of Naz where IA: Initiate left off. Our hero is a fostered orphan whose number one priority is Meri, his beloved little sister, but during the events of Initiate, Naz discovered that there was a lot more going on in the world around them than the simple visible dangers of gangs on the streets. His telepathic and telekinetic skills are growing with the aid of those closest, and leading Naz out into a full-on battle with his enemy, The Incubus Apostles. The fire for revenge is lit in Naz’s heart when his beloved friend Artie is lost.

Having read Initiate some months ago, I knew that I would be stepping back into the beautifully penned yet tragic world of the Exclave with John Darryl Winston’s impeccable writing. I was delighted to find that Naz is still a sensitive and unlikely hero, struggling with his own inner turmoil over his powers, but growing stronger and more confident as he hunts out gang leader Roffio Styles. When Naz is finally forced to begin using his powers, there’s a frightening amount of potential for total destruction, but the depth of how you get to know Naz and his personal struggles means the audience will always root for their teenage street hero. Once again, IA: B.O.S.S. achieves a slick progression of storytelling with deep psychological themes and an urban gang violence atmosphere. Fresh, current and absolutely superb.

Kim Anisi

IA: B.O.S.S. by John Darryl Winston is the second IA book in the series. You can read this one without reading book 1, but it might be better if you read the books in the right order. Once again, the reader follows Naz, who in the past just wanted to be an ordinary teenager, i.e. stay out of the way of bullies and simply survive. However, he is anything but ordinary. He can move objects with his mind, and also has certain telepathic abilities. He still has to learn to use them to his advantage, though. In this book, Naz joins a basketball team (in the beginning just because of a girl), makes new friends, one of them a potential girlfriend, but also has to deal with a devastating loss and memories he lost. Both losses set him on a mission to find the truth - even if nobody else finds anything suspicious in the beginning.

I enjoyed IA: B.O.S.S. by John Darryl Winston just as much, or even a bit more, than the first book in the series. There is a bit of a mystery about what happened to my favourite character at the end, but that gives me hope that there will be more stories to tell in a third book (no pressure here, dear author). The characters are all believable, and how they interact is quite interesting. Each of them has something that makes them unique - even if it is something as unusual as a bird phobia. The writing is consistently good throughout, and it is a pleasant journey (apart from the emotional trauma you get to experience) right to the end. Definitely a book I would recommend and not only to young adults. I don't fall into that group any longer, but I did love the book!

Jack Magnus

IA: B.O.S.S. is a young adult science fiction novel written by John Darryl Winston. It is the second book in Winston’s science fiction/coming of age series, following IA: Initiate. Naz is entering his second year in middle school at Lincoln. Since his impromptu chess game with the blind chess master at the festival, his friends and sister, Meri, are trying to interest him in joining the school chess club. Naz isn’t so sure about it. He still has his obligations to the Market Merchants after school each afternoon, and Meri’s well-being is still his number one priority. While she’ll be safely away at the International Academy next year, there’s still this year to get through. What’s even more discomforting is the interest the principal at his school has exhibited in him. When Naz was called down to the principal's office, he was struck by the recognition that the mysterious stranger he had seen watching him as he played chess with the master and had noticed on other occasions was none other than his principal. While he’s considering ways to avoid the club, Coach Fears has scheduled a basketball tryout that is virtually a school-wide event. Chess Club is cancelled, and the coach is already certain somehow that Naz will be a star player. When Naz notices that a girl he’s been interested in has joined the students filing into the gymnasium to see the tryouts, he can’t resist the challenge to see just what he can do.

John Darryl Winston’s young adult science fiction novel, IA: B.O.S.S., is the second book in a remarkable and original series, and while you can read this book on its own, I would strongly recommend that any readers new to the series begin with the first book, IA: Initiate. This story begins with a look back into Naz’s past life with his father, Cory Anderson, and I found their interactions, as brief as they were, to be fascinating and a great assist in understanding just who Naz is and how he got his gifts. I also loved Winston’s descriptions of the basketball tryouts and, later on, the blow-by-blow descriptions of the on-the-court action when Naz and his teammates are playing. These passages are so well written and descriptive that you can almost see the scoreboard changing and hear the crowd roaring as the Railsplitters rack up yet another victory. Naz’s joining the team also means he finally has a family besides Meri; the teammates and their coach who become much more than fellow team members. It's marvelous to see the self-reliant and solitary outsider surrounded by people who care about him. IA: B.O.S.S. is a great read that had me immersed in the strange and somber place called the Exclave from the very beginning, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. IA: B.O.S.S. is most highly recommended.

Charity Tober

IA: B.O.S.S., the second installment in the series by John Darryl Winston, is a smart and engaging middle school science fiction read. The story continues the journey of Naz Andersen in the dangerous and tumultuous Enclave environment. One of Naz’s main goals in life is to always keep his younger sister Meri safe. This proves to be no small feat, but Naz takes his protective older brother role very seriously and keeps an eye on his little sister, no matter what. Things seem to be going well until Naz’s best friend is taken under very suspicious circumstances. Naz investigates, keeping a close eye on local gang activity, trying to discover what really happened to his friend. Things take a complicated and unexpected turn, though, when Naz discovers inexplicable powers within himself. Stricken with grief and anger, Naz faces the moral dilemma of using his new found powers for good or choosing to exact vengeance on those responsible.

I really enjoyed IA: B.O.S.S. and thought it was another great installment in the series. Winston has created such an interesting and unique world, filled with characters that (I think) readers will really be engaged with. Naz is a complex protagonist in this book. He possesses many admirable qualities, such as being a loyal friend, a loving and protective big brother and other moral high points, but the author also delves into Naz’s darker side. Naz is faced with the great dilemma of how to use his powers. It would be easy to say he’s justified in exacting revenge and finding justice for his friend, but we all know that’s not the right thing to do (not matter what powers you have). I look forward to more books from John Darryl Winston and would recommend the IA series to fans of middle grade, YA, science fiction and adventure genres.

Dianna Skowera

Boss is the second installment to John Darryl Winston’s young adult IA series. In this gripping dystopian urban fantasy, Naz Andersen continues his journey of self-discovery. Pursued by a mysterious gang called the IA, he ironically dreams his salvation is escaping to a well-bred school of the same initials, called the International Academy. Orphaned, Naz and his wise-beyond-her-years sister Meri try to dissect the secrets of their family’s past and the peculiar powers they believe Naz to possess. In a terrifying world no child should face alone, the two forge through with the second senses that only survivors possess, identifying enemies and false friends in order to protect each other. Will Naz find out why he can alter things with his mind, who the voices in his head belong to, and can he figure out how to harness his talents in time to save all that he holds dear?

Open to page one of the IA series for a delightfully refreshing suspense read that is sure to captivate all ages. Inspiring and touching, Boss is sure not to disappoint. Winston proves he is in the top-notch of writers with a superbly-crafted addition to his IA series. Boss is foreshadowing at its best and rivals the others in endearing relationship and character development. Winston puts you on the pages, into the world he’s created, and miraculously, somehow also in the psyche of his characters. If kids today need a new superhero their own age, Winston has more than succeeded in supplying it with his IA series. A pleasure to read – Winston has created a role model for young and old alike in this trying world.