Author: J.R. Stewart
Published: November 10th 2015
Publisher: Blue Moon
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Length: 186 pages
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?
Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized – even visits with Andrew.
Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.
Nirvana is a fast-paced, page-turning young adult novel combining elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance. Part of a trilogy, this book introduces readers to a young woman who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so.
I had absolutely no idea what this story was about when I got a copy from NetGalley for participating in their Book Advocate event last year. The cover was really eye-catching and after reading the premise, I was super intrigued and keen to jump straight in.
Kenders is a teen activist and musician and has always been strongly behind her beliefs, but when her scientist boyfriend goes missing after being secretive about his research, she finds her life in danger and doesn’t know who to trust as she works to find out what happened to Andrew and what he was working on. The Hexagon company controls everything, she’s being watched no matter where she is – real life or in the virtual world of Nirvana. She believes Andrew is still alive, everyone else is telling her different.
This was a bit of an iffy read for me. The virtual reality aspect was interesting, the secret research and subsequent dead/missing person and the hunt to find out what happened was good, but the story was so slow. The pace was so slow that I stopped reading about 17% of the way in and left the book for a long time before picking it up again.
I didn’t really connect with Kenders in any way. She felt flat and just… bland. There wasn’t anything really interesting about any of the characters and for the moments that should maybe have made me gasp, I just kept flicking the page past it. I wanted to know what was happening, but it wasn’t that same immediate urgency that I usually get when reading a book like this.
There was a great conspiracy running through it. Everyone was connected in some way and I completely understood Kenders feeling heartbroken over being lied to by everyone around her. They were treating her like a child who couldn’t be trusted. It felt weird that there was this whole network around but she was out of the loop.
There were quite a lot of viewpoints and I liked that, it’s one of my favourite things in books, but there was nothing really distinctive between the characters voices to differentiate between them.
It was an interesting premise, but I don’t feel like it delivered for me personally. While I didn’t dislike the story, I didn’t fall in love with it. It was an okay read.
About the Author
J.R. Stewart has worked on many corporate projects throughout a prolific IT academic and consulting career, and is involved with many confidential virtual reality projects. After working on advanced “VR” technologies for over a decade, Stewart grew concerned about the implications of this work and the possible psychological effects that it may have on its users.
*Biography from Goodreads