I don’t tend to like short stories because I often feel that they leave too much of the story untold. I never seem to feel like I get to know enough about the characters. If it is a short story that builds upon on a story I’ve already read, though, I can usually handle it. So, I was hesitant to read this collection of short stories. I was nervous. Like, really nervous. But then I saw some of the blurbs that talked about how timely and amazing this book was, and I decided to go for it. Worst case scenario? I would give myself permission not to finish the book. As it turns out, I never even considered quitting. The first story was so compelling that I just knew I had to keep reading… And then I realized that the short stories were interconnected! Though the stories often took readers along different trajectories and switched up the characters and setting, there were plenty of references back to characters and events that had happened in previous chapters. I didn’t feel, at all, like I was missing out on the “what happened next” kind of stuff. Even more than that, I really appreciated how well Dayton extrapolated from current medical research to come up with a somewhat plausible, albeit dystopian, future of genetic modification.
Kiva and Seth believed that they were growing up in ancient Alexandria, but it was pretty clear to me that something was off. It just didn’t seem very authentic, and I didn’t think it was because Bodeen had been sloppy with her research. As it turned out, I was right. The details were “off” because the people who set up the virtual reality program for Alexandria had been a little lazy and didn’t bother making all of the details completely authentic. As it turned out, Kiva and Seth were actually growing up on board a spaceship and their brains were experiencing life via virtual reality so that they could still learn while their bodies were sustained in torpor chambers. I don’t really feel like I am giving away any spoilers, though, since this was all revealed fairly early on as Kiva was taken out of torpor and sent along with Seth on board a search vessel, called The Tomb, to try and get a part for their failing ship.
Fans of Across the Universe, Defy the Stars, These Broken Stars, and The 100 should definitely check this one out. The main “problem” I had with this book, though, is that it has quite a cliff-hanger ending and seems to be the beginning of a series — but Goodreads doesn’t name it as part of a series! I am hoping that’s just because it’s so new.
Speth was nervous about giving her Last Day speech. She had to do it right or her sponsors could back out on her, or maybe even sue her. Another lawsuit was the last thing her family needed. Her parents were already sent into servitude because of the National Inherited Debt Act and the Historical Reparations Agency when it was “discovered” that one of their ancestors had illegally downloaded a song. And now that Speth was turning 15, she would be given a Cuff so that she could be charged for every word she spoke and every gesture she made — or have her eyeballs shocked if she couldn’t pay. Speth knew it would be tough to scale back on what she said after 15 years of free speech, but she had no idea she would be tested so soon, or so horribly. As she was walking across a bridge to give her Last Day speech, her best friend, Beecher, jumped and killed himself. She literally could not react before giving her Last Day speech or she would be in breech of her contract. She couldn’t imagine how she would give that speech after what she had just seen, so she decided she just wouldn’t talk. Ever again.
But how could Speth possibly keep her vow? She didn’t really consider how she would finish her education. Get a job. Or even communicate with friends and family. It was clear that the corporations and lawyers had taken things too far by copyrighting words, gestures, and even physical likenesses… But how could Speth fight back, let alone lead a revolution, without speaking? Much like MT Anderson’s Feed, this story challenges readers to consider the consequences of giving corporations and technology too much control over our daily lives. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Word$ trilogy.
Isla was only trying to say goodbye to Tam. She just wanted to see him one more time before he went off to join the army. But, while she was calling out to Tam on that crowded platform, she was kidnapped. After being trafficked out of the city from which she was stolen, she and the other girls who had been taken were stripped, cleaned, and given new clothing. Uncertain of if and when she would ever see Tam again, Isla made every effort to hide and protect the locket he had given her and stuffed it into her mouth. And it was a good thing she was able to keep it hidden, since that locket provided a modicum of comfort and the strength she needed to survive the harrowing ordeal.
Although Isla was held captive with a bunch of other girls, that did not bring her any comfort. They were all just as scared as she was, if not more. And aside from being trapped in the small cell of a dungeon with awful slop for food, they were also very aware of the fact that they had been kidnapped and sold in order to be “used” by a rich man and his guests. No one really knew what happened to the girls after they were taken away and “used,” but it was easy enough to see that their numbers were dwindling. Isla would have to come up with some sort of a plan if she ever planned to escape — and she would have to do it sooner rather than later if she wanted to save the other girls, too.
I would recommend this book to fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and the Chemical Garden Trilogy.
Contrary to popular belief, heroes are not always perfectly behaved and villains are not always evil. In fact, heroes sometimes act out of spite or self-interest, and villains sometimes act selflessly to help other people. In this story, both the Renegades and the Anarchists are comprised of prodigies — people with special powers, much like the X-Men — but their vastly different ideologies have placed them on opposite sides of the hero-villain spectrum. The Anarchists honestly believe that society would fare better without so much governmental oversight and interference, i.e. with anarchy. The Renegades, on the other hand, think that they are doing society a favor by overseeing everyone and bringing back law and order. Though both sides think their way would be best for the greater good, neither side seems capable of seeing the other side’s point of view.
Enter Nova, aka Nightmare.
Nova was raised by her Uncle Ace [the leader of the Anarchists] after the Renegades failed to protect her family. Nova has been consumed by a desire to avenge their deaths for as long as she can remember, but none of her plans seem to work out. Luckily, the Anarchists have an alternate plan that just might work. Because the Renegades don’t know Nightmare’s true identity, the Anarchists decide to send Nova to Renegade try-outs so that they can use her to gather intel and take down the Renegades from the inside. Of course, it doesn’t take long for Nova, who takes on the Renegade name of Insomnia, to start to feel conflicted. Not only does she start to fall for a guy who is a part of the Renegades, but she starts to see *why* the Renegades operate the way they do and that their methods actually have some merit to them. What’s a girl to do?!?
Because I enjoyed Dashner’s Maze Runner series, and am not-so-patiently waiting for the theatrical release of Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline), I thought this seemed like an audiobook I should probably check out. I mean, what’s not to like about a fast-paced technological thriller, right?!? Much like in Ready Player One, a lot of this story took place in a virtual world. Rather than just using goggles and gloves to connect to that virtual world, though, the people in this story use “coffins” that provide their bodies with physical sensations to make it feel as if they are actually experiencing the sensations (both pleasure and pain) of the VirtNet.
Michael is a gamer who spends more of his time in the VirtNet than in actual reality. And, who can blame him? Most of his friends are people he has never met in real life, and his hacking skills mean that he can be better, faster, and stronger with only a few lines of code. Rumors begin to circulate about a “bad” hacker who is using his skills to trap people in the VirtNet against their will, which causes the victims to suffer brain damage and memory loss in real life. Shortly after meeting a girl who claimed to be a victim, Michael was contacted by someone from the government who asked him to use his hacking skills for good by tracking down the perpetrator. Sounds simple enough, right? Yeah… Definitely not! If you want lots of action and adventure set in a high-tech virtual world, you’ll definitely want to read this one.
Devin never knew life before the Earth got too hot. All he knew of that time was what his grandfather told him. But, despite the fact that he grew up in the “after,” he wasn’t really aware of the hardships that affected most people. Growing up on the farm, he learned how to make due with what the animals and the land provided. As long as he and his grandfather worked hard, they had all they really needed. When his grandfather died, though, it became too much for a single person to manage. So, Devin set off to the city to see if he could find anyone to help him work the farm. For the first time in his life, Devin experienced true thirst and hunger. He was also exposed to the darker side of humans when he encountered people who were willing to hurt others and steal in order to survive as well as those who ignored the suffering of others.
After settling in with some other orphaned children who taught him to scam and scavenge enough to get by, Devin began to hear rumors about a special home for children. If the rumors were to be believed, it was a place in which children would have more than enough food and toys for all. Even better? There was a chance that the children could be adopted by families that could provide for them! Some of the orphans believed in this place, but others thought it was a mere fairy tale. When Devin met an older boy who promised to bring him to this home for children, though, he decided to take a chance. As it turns out, this home really did exist… but something was not quite right. This book is technically “middle grade” fiction, but teen and adult fans of dystopias should definitely check it out.