Rating: 4 Stars.
Marisa, a 17 year old hacker, lives in a futuristic world, where our brains are more closely tied to the internet than ever. She and her group of ‘Cherry Dogs’ as they call themselves, gamers and hackers alike, find out about a new drug called “Bluescreen”, which causes the user to black out for a short period of time filling them with a sensory rush. They quickly learn that there’s more to this drug than they had initially thought.
Cyber realities can be difficult to write for a variety of reasons. They take a lot of world building and explanation much like any good fantasy or science fiction world. It can be difficult to understand the difference between what’s real and what is part of the cyber world. This also requires quite a bit of attention from the reader. This novel requires this kind of attention.
What wins me over is the great strong female characters that Dan Wells creates. All of the women exhibited in this novel had an important role to play and none of them were meek individuals that needed saving. Even Marisa’s mother, who arguably would have been the biggest pushover, knew when to stand up to her husband and take care of those she loves. He created a great set of relationships that didn’t rely on romance to develop who they were as beings.
I also enjoyed the diversity of the cast. We follow a Latina girl, and her friends (and the rest of the character cast) vary in their backgrounds in ethnicity and sexual orientation. It was prevalent, without being forced. They aren’t just diverse, but they come with their flaws, making them more realistic.
My difficulty with this novel was the beginning. It took a little while to get into the story, and the opening didn’t work for me. I’m glad I held on and waited for the story to get better because once the action with the Bluescreen began, the book really took off. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series and I’m keen to get to know the side character better, as Sahara, Bao and Anja seem to have a lot of room for exploration on their background.
Recommendation: If you’re interested in cyber reality stories, this just might be up your alley. If you’re finding the story lagging, hold on until the entrance of the Bluescreen, it’s worth the wait.