In the domed city of Evanescence, appearance is everything. A Natural Born amongst genetically-altered Aristocrats, all Ella ever wanted was to be like everyone else. Augmented, sparkling, and perfect. Then…the crash. Devastated by her father’s death and struggling with her new physical limitations, Ella is terrified to learn she is not just alone, but little more than a prisoner.
Her only escape is to lose herself in Nexis, the hugely popular virtual reality game her father created. In Nexis she meets Guster, a senior player who guides Ella through the strange and compelling new world she now inhabits. He offers Ella guidance, friendship…and something more. Something that allows her to forget about the “real” world, and makes her feel whole again.
But Nexis isn’t quite the game everyone thinks it is.
A.L. (Amanda) writes both YA and adult cross-genre fiction. She lives in Connecticut with her two feline hench-creatures and has had such colorful careers as a meta-data specialist, barista, cheese-maker, a food safety specialist, and a government inspector.
Amanda's work ranges from teen to adult and spans across multiple genres including Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, and Romance. Her work has been published in various outlets including self, traditional, and small press. Much of her work can be considered cross-genre and sometimes ranges into speculative. She likes redemption stories, alternative histories, retellings, generally pushing comfort zones, and reexamining perspective.
Her educational background includes vocational schooling as a vet tech; undergraduate degrees in English and Anthropology with minors in Women's Studies, Religion, and African Studies; Master's work in Mental Health Counseling; and extensive certifications and FDA training in food safety, codes, and regulations.
She lives an alternative lifestyle, is an Ally, an environmentalist, and is an advocate for progressive systemic and social reform toward egalitarianism. She encourages personal responsibility, self improvement, and collectively working toward a better world. Amanda believes that we're all living the human experience and can work together to understand and amend our grievances. Overall, she is driven by curiosity, empathy, logic, and systemic understanding.
She's an INFJ, a Capricorn, a Hufflepuff, a bit gothic, and a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal.
Nexis is an unique and imaginative debut that keeps you guessing until the very end, leaves you greedy for answers with it’s many tricks at every turn and an ending that makes you question everything you’ve come to know.
Nexis takes place in city called Evanescence, set in a post-apocalyptic world with two very different type of people: The Augmented and the Naturals. The Augmented are simply flawless. They are able to change their body, hair, even their laugh if they don’t like it and instead become whatever they want to be. Don’t like that pesky mole? Hate having to repeatedly shave your legs? I actually do Wish for different coloured eyes? Gone, gone and gone. All of these alts and mods do not come cheap so only the upper class known as The Aristocrats have them, they're always sporting the latest trends. Now Ella, our protagonist is a Natural and she's staying that way, although this isn't exactly her decision. Her father won’t allow her to have any body alterations of modifications, much to her humiliation. Ella is a Natural living among Aristocrats and this is not easy. The people of Evanescence have a flare for the dramatics when it comes to their appearance; like my review of Winter in regards to the people of Luna, I was again reminded of The Hunger Games. The Aristocrats were much like the people of the Capitol- to fit in you ultimately have to stand out, the more outrageous the better!
Ella’s father is the creator of the hugely popular virtual reality game Nexis. After a devastating accident that leaves Ella handicapped, she withdraws from reality and instead immerses herself in the world of Nexis. It’s here that she discovers that she can recreate herself, be anyone she wants and not be expected to follow in her father’s footsteps but instead to accomplish her own dreams. Nexis provides a much needed and welcome escape for Ella and what starts as a fun, easygoing game soon starts to crumble as reality and fantasy collide.
Ella must complete her mission in Nexis but she soon becomes tangled in a web of lies and must choose a side and pledge her allegiance, but in a world where everything, even the people are a fantasy. Who can be trusted? It took me a few chapters to warm to Ella, her character arc is slow and gradual- at first I felt really sorry for her but once she learned to accept herself and care less about pleasing others I was able to really get behind and root for her. In Nexis she meets the mysterious Gus who takes her under his wing and shows her the wonderful world her father created and how to survive there. She doesn’t care who he is in the real world; Aristocrat or not she has no intention of meeting him in real life after her accident but things don’t exactly go to plan on that front….
Overall this was such an interesting first book in the series, it’s introduces you to this new dystopian world and virtual reality slowly and before long you can’t get enough. However the crown jewel of this book was the ending, it was amazing. I absolutely flew through those last few chapters; it was full of action, mystery and so much intrigue. Identities were revealed, people were betrayed and just when I thought I had figured everything out another revelation managed to turn the book on it's head, which begs the question ‘What the hell happened?’ To say I need answers is an understatement. Nexis shows no signs of slowing down after that explosive ending and I cannot wait to see what Davroe comes up with next!
Ellani Drexel is from a domed city known as Evanescence. She has grown up in a world where most members of the city do alterations and modifications on themselves to make them more "perfect". Ella is what as known as a natural, she hasn't had any alts or mods done and her father prohibits her from getting any in order to protect a promise made to Ella's mother before she died.
Ella's father is the creator of a virtual reality game known as Nexis. After being honored for the creation of Nexis, Ella and her father are in the middle of an argument about being modified when a pod crashes into their home killing her father instantly and leaving Ella wounded having lost her legs in the crash.
Ella's new caretaker locks her in her father's office with only the comfort of her "nanny" robot. With the loss of her legs and being trapped she decides to try out the world of Nexis in the hopes of feeling closer to her father and being able to regain her legs in the virtual world.
Nexis is one of those books that drags you in and doesn't really want to let you go. When finishing this first installment in this new series I just really want the next book right this instant to see where the story is going to go and what happens next. I really can't even imagine what the author has in store for the rest of the series as the first book itself was quite complex with the different layers in this post-apocalyptic society.
The city of Evanescence itself reminded me a lot of the Capitol in The Hunger Games series. The residents are the elite in the world that spend their time in different indulgences and do strange things to themselves in the name of beauty. While outside of the city you have what are known as the disfavored who seem to be the lower class citizens that aren't allowed into the dome with the clean air so they are dying off due to the pollution. While the world building gave a good picture of the current state of things I did think it lacked a bit in explaining the disfavored but hopefully more will be touched upon later in the series.
Nexis itself reminds me a lot of Ready, Player, One. You have this "game" in which you are living through your avatar in your mind and when playing it seems like reality. There were different places that Ella and her companions went to that modeled things in the past such as a land that seemed to be taking place in the sixties.
The story is switching between Ella's reality since the accident and what is going on with her and her participation and companions in the Nexis. The middle of the book seemed to drag a bit with not giving much detail in either world as it was progressing which brought my rating down slightly. But in the end of the story the things I'd been questioning throughout did end up getting expanded upon with an amazing finish to this book.
I will definitely be looking forward to continuing this series as with the ending of this book the possibilities going forward in this YA dystopian post-apocalyptic world seem to be endless. Would definitely recommend checking it out.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Entangled Publishing, LLC and NetGalley.)
“The Anansi child will catch them all by surprise. She will inherit the earth.”
This was an interesting sci-fi story, but the pace was a little slow for me.
Ella got a rough deal in this book, not only did she have to live with her father’s death, but she also had to learn to live with physical disabilities, and face the news that things that she had always believed, were not necessarily the truth.
The storyline in this had a few twists in it, but the pace was a little bit slow for me, and I wanted to know what was happening a lot faster than we did. The whole middle portion of the story seemed to drag, and although the twists did make things more interesting, the slow pace was a bit of a killer. There was some romance, and there was a bit of a twist when it came to that too.
The ending to this was okay, but it did leave us with a bit of a cliff-hanger over what Ella will do next.
May contain mild-ish spoilers, but nothing you wouldn't already see in any other review. P.S. this is long...Sorry, LOL!
Nexis is a strange and unique book, both for me and for the genre. It's a story within a story and there are a lot of layers shoved into these 300 some-odd pages. As any author might do, I encourage you to stop trying to figure it out and just read. Immerse yourself like you were in a movie. Drop your expectations, drop your preconceptions. Just read and imagine.
Nexis is the sort of book that isn’t going to appeal to everyone who reads it. I’m certain there is something for everyone in this book -- it’s just that sort of book -- but, I purposely did things in this book that I KNOW some readers aren’t going to like. I’m gonna start off by saying that you have every right to your opinion and if you don’t like something in this book that’s more than okay. I love reviews that can clearly and respectfully explain WHY people don’t like a book. It allows for the constructive criticism that we writers need to grow and that’s wonderful! I’m aware that no one thing appeals to everyone in this world…not even chocolate. But, you as readers have the right to review as you see fit, I have the right to say "I know, I did it on purpose," and explain to you why. ;D
This isn't everything, but some of the bigger ones. So, here goes:
THE ARISTOCRACY: A lot of people are asking if I got my inspiration for the Aristocrats’s Mods and Alts from The Hunger Games’s Capitol. While, in retrospect, I can see where you are coming from, that’s not actually where my inspiration for the Aristocrats or their Mods and Alts came from. In all honesty, I drew inspiration for the city and the people who life in it from a strange combination of various anime series, the movie Bio-Dome, Wall-E, Batman Beyond, and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series – all of which, to be fair, existed before the Hunger Games did. And I did start writing Nexis before I read The Hunger Games. The thing I find most different between these people is that Aristocrats have a pretty clear initial reason for doing what they do. They are literally so homogeneous that they need to stand out among each other and that’s the real drive among the youth to initially start Moding and Alting. After they get older, that’s when they become bored and flamboyant. I don’t recall that being the case in The Capitol…Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe they were just really bored and flamboyant and had no underlying reason for being that way in the first place…Also, the Aristocrats are not outwardly cruel to the Disfavored like the residents of The Capitol are toward the people of Panem. The Aristocrats don’t act violently toward the Disfavored, beat them down, enslave, or subjugate them. They just don’t CARE about the Disfavored. In some ways, the Aristocrats see themselves as charitable to the Disfavored – the Disfavored would not be alive if not for the Aristocrats’ occasional aid, the residual protection offered by the domed city, and the hiring of Dolls (yes, Dolls are hired and can leave when they want, they are NOT slaves).
SEEN IT: On the whole, it's not uncommon, after reading or watching a lot of things in the same genre for them to start to feel or look the same to consumers. Like genes or molecules, books are made up of the same basic building blocks put together again and again in different combinations. Take any one aspect and you'll find others like it. There are only so many tropes for creative minds to work with and what matters most is how they take these same things and make them different from everything else -- building one thing upon another until they have a unique new product. Over time that's going to make story-lines more complicated, that's just the nature of the beast. I pride myself on this book being a combination of things not yet seen together. Yes, some of the people seem like something else (there are certain societies we like to advise against in dystopians), yes the technology might seem the same (we authors do our homework and look at what is plausible and achievable), yes there are gaming books (not enough of them in my humble opinion), and yes there are characters who lose parents, have newfound disabilities, or are downtrodden by society. But, it's not so common to find them all together.
ELLA: The whole wait, she’s so dumb, how can she be smart thing…Rest assured, she's supposed to be a stupid genius. These people do exist, believe it or not, especially when they’re young and experiencing things for the first time. Haven’t you ever watched Big Bang Theory?! She's got “book smarts” not “street smarts” as one might say. The beauty about her relationship with Guster is that they have complimentary smarts. She’s the book smarts and he’s the street smarts. That’s not to say that either can’t be smart in both areas at times. Ella is flawed and I made her that way. She is young, confused, under a lot of stress, makes dumb choices, and needs to be beaten over the head with things. That’s what makes her human. She's supposed to annoy you at times. I, as a writer, hate "perfect" characters and like to write slightly frustrating YA heroines…because that’s most likely how a majority of your parents feel/felt about you at one time or another. But, she’s also brave. More brave than I think a lot of people are. And she’s stronger than a lot of us as well. So, she may be a PITA who runs away too much, can’t figure out the simplest things, and possibly makes really stupid life-shattering decisions -- but you have to at least respect her a little bit because she’s learning from her mistakes and she's growing. I have every intention of making her the sort of character who continues to develop throughout the series, so I hope you hang on for the ride!
THE DISFAVORED: This is such a huge topic and I know I only shimmied the surface of it in Nexis. Rest assured, you’ll get a lot more about the Disfavored in the books to come!
THE DRAG: Many YA readers are going to think that, for a YA book, NEXIS needs a tummy tuck. My opinion on that? This isn’t the internet. I don’t believe in instant gratification in a book. I believe that world building, sensual experience, and emotional and psychological development are just as action packed as a fight scene. This is my style as an author and it’s totally okay that some of you feel like falling asleep. Obviously, I’m not the writer for you. Some of you will love the middle of the book -- obviously, I’m your writer, LOL. I can tell you this, if I hadn’t put the dragging tummy into this book, there would be a lot of unhappy readers – the ones who wanted the game-storyline. This is a big, complicated world with dynamic systems and two full story arcs. It’s not something that’s easy to action-pack your way through without dissatisfying the main demographic this book was meant for – the true SF/F readers and gamers. Trust me, this book was a lot larger and I already took more out than I wanted to at the risk of taking away from some aspects of this story (ahem, romantic development—see below). I had to choose what was most important to this story, and that was Ella’s development. This is her story – how she grows as a person by overcoming ALL the trials and tribulations in her life via her growth in a game. Both story lines are necessary.
ROMANTIC DEVELOPMENT: The insta-love thing. Okay, I really did go into this book insisting to myself that this was not gonna be an insta-love book. But, well, this is complicated by the need to focus on the genre (SF over romance), the plot – Ella’s life journey not her love life, and also because I – as the author – know things you don’t know yet as a reader. It’s hard to stay true to the reality of your characters while also entertaining readers. But, I did TRY. True or False? There are some people in this life who are just gonna get you physically excited. If you answered false, I truly believe you’re either physically dead inside or just haven’t met the right person yet. Anyway, I believe those people exist. And Guster is one of those characters. It’s not so much that he’s physically gorgeous because he’s not. If you look closely, Ella initially mentally redesigns him to be better looking, but she stops herself. She FORCES herself to find beauty in him – finding certain aspects that she hyper-focuses on and when she does she can more easily find more beauty as the hours tick by. We do this every day! The more we know someone the more beautiful they become to us. We learn to accept their flaws in favor of their attributes. Really, it’s Guster’s personality that she falls in love with. His ease and confidence, his smirk, his physical bearing. These are all subtle cues that make the reader think he’s insta-likable and I did this on purpose because he’s a “leader” and “manager” -- someone people instantly find charismatic, likable, and trustworthy. He’s even more-so to Ella because he’s one of the first guys that has ever actually paid any attention to her. If you were completely ignored by the opposite sex and then some hottie came and started showing interest in you, you’d start tripping over yourself too. And why is Guster paying attention to Ella? Well, you’ll have to read (possibly beyond Nexis and into the sequel) to find out. But, rest assured, he has a very good reason. Yes, there is lots of chemistry between them and yes, I added MORE front end chemistry than I initially had because I had to cut so much romantic development. Yes, there’s not a lot of initial development in the love story because I had to cut it out because of saggy belly and no relevance to the plot at hand. I DO encourage people to pay attention to the time stamps in this book. In the book it feels like Ella kisses Gus kind of soon after meeting him. BUT, there are plenty of people who kiss on the first date. At this point she's been with Gus for...at least 8 hours at this point? That’s at least two real-world dates. Also, this is the equivalent of going to college for these kids – they are, for the first time, not being watched by parents or society – so, they might be a little caught up in the going wild thing. So...It's safe for her to admit she wants to kiss him at this point, right? Besides that, she does TRY to be smart, put the brakes on things, etc. once she realizes they ARE insta-loving. And he’s okay with that and respects her decision. There are giant gaps of time between most of the in-game chapters. So, feels like insta-love to you but really it’s been months! They spend 6 hours a day with each other. That’s plenty of time to take it slow, get to know each other, have romantic little moments, etc. etc. Just because you don’t see it as a reader doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
Okay, I think that wraps it up! Hopefully this answers questions and clears things up. Feel free to ask me anything else, I'm always willing to chat.
Im not a fan of YA at all, but I loved this book. I was fortunate enough to get to read it once upon a time and it has stayed with me since. The characters are vivid and completely realized, and the story is imaginative and wonderful. This is one of those books that it doesn't matter what age its written for, it touches you and will hold a place in your heart.
In a society where people are genetically and surgically modified to make themselves unique, nothing natural is considered beautiful, and nothing natural can be trusted. Humanity destroyed the world and now must protect and hide itself.
Enter Ellani, a girl kept Natural, trapped by a horrifying accident and then forced by circumstances into the program that brought fame to her father: the virtual reality game known as Nexis. Inside Nexis she finds a friend, and begins to truly understand what has been lost... and what might yet be gained.
This isn't typical dystopian fiction, nor is it typical SF, though it has elements of both. This is about Ella's coming of age, with a hint of Cinderella to balance the trickster and enough truth to resonate while lessoning us all.
Can't wait for the next book!
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
WOW. This book was exceptional!! Full review to come!
**Thank you so much to Entangled Teen for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!**
To me, virtual reality stories are hidden gems in the science fiction genre. As soon as I find one, I squeal with glee like a little child and immediately begin reading. However, Nexis is not one that I had to find. In fact, Nexis came to me, and as soon as I saw it, I knew that it was going to end up being yet another book that I loved.
I was right.
Nexis follows a girl named Ella. Her father just created a virtual reality world in the future that they live in. If you couldn't tell by the title, the game is called Nexis. Basically, you can create a virtual character and be whoever you want and do whatever you want. The only catch is that you can only play for six hours and then you have to take an eighteen hour break. The game literally kicks you after six hours and won't let you log back on for another eighteen, which I feel our games today should do! (No, but really, I could still play Guitar Hero for 24 hours straight if my drowsiness never caught up with me.)
Ella's father, after creating the game, wins an award and the two of them end up being part of the Aristocracy. However, while the two of them are in their home that night, the pod crashes and Ella's father is killed. Ella survives, though she lost her legs and finds herself alone in a room. All she has is her robot whom she's known all her life. Therefore she decides to play Nexis for once. The book follows her adventures and discoveries while she's in the game, and outside the game.
Ella was an amazing character. Despite her horrible loss, she somehow managed to say pretty strong and fight for herself, which I extremely respected. I definitely felt horrible for her, though I won't go into details about exactly why because that may be a bit spoilery. I think that my favorite character was definitely Gus. He was just so caring and sweet towards Ella and he showed her what love really is. The two of them were absolutely perfect together.
I loved the idea of the virtual reality called Nexis. At one point, there was even a description about how everyone in the game can basically do what they want to do. One person may be fulfilling their dream while another is just going on quests. I found that just amazing. It could also be used as a way to actually fall in love with someone, because the Aristocrats just married whom their parents said they'd marry. I also really loved the world that Davroe has created.
Honestly, a lot of dystopians have seemed kind of the same to me lately. Nexis, however, has definitely stood out to me and that's why I think it's worth the read. I definitely can't wait to see what happens in book two. I just hope the wait isn't too long, because I need more of Gus and Ella in my life ASAP!
Nexis is an innovative new YA sci-fi dystopian set in the post-apocalyptic future. The Aristocrats have created their own perfect society, separate from the undesirables outside the walls. Still, everyone needs a little outlet, right? That's why they're all so excited about Ella's father's virtual reality video game - a game so engrossing that he had to set a time limit so that people wouldn't just play indefinitely and live out the rest of their lives in the game! Ella has always been resistant to the idea of Nexis because it kept her father so incredibly busy that he didn't have time for her. But after an accident takes his life (and her legs), Nexis is the only way she can get close to him. And she starts to realize that her father meant the game for her all along ...
What I enjoyed:
Altered. In Ella's society, everyone is altered - people genetically alter their offspring to be perfect and then everyone twists their own perfection with augmentations - basically extreme forms of plastic surgery that allows everyone to follow the latest crazy fads so they can stand out from the crowd. Ella is not only a Natural because she wasn't genetically altered, but her father also won't let her modify herself in any way, so she feels extremely out of place in society. Her long-dead mother was a naturalist, and Ella's father promised he would keep his daughter "real." This altered society setting was fascinating - I could vividly imagine all of the crazy alterations that people had received and it made the society very unique and interesting!!
Nexis. The video game world itself was quite a surprise to me. I loved that it was very realistic in many ways, but still so foreign to Ella. And then there were the game elements - I loved the little touches like the coins that you got when you killed someone in the game.
Guster. What's a video game world without a virtual love interest, right? I loved the concept of people living completely separate lives in the game and in the outside world. People would even get married and have kids in the game - little virtual children who didn't really exist. It's kind of mind boggling. But, anyway, back to Guster. He and Ella forge a real connection in the game and I was definitely invested in their relationship. Because they spend a full year playing the game, the romance didn't feel rushed or unbelievable, even if they couldn't spend any of their "real" lives together. There was some mystery about Guster's real-life identity, and a few twists and turns there that I am VERY eager to see play out in the next book!
Twists and turns in the real world. While Ella was playing the game, there were quite a few complications going on in her actual life. Things got dicey - and while there were a few twists that I predicted, I never expected how far it would all go! Once again, I can't wait to see what Davroe has in store for us with the second book.
Slight confusion. Occasionally, the sci-fi elements of this book went over my head. There were some sequences in the video game where I thought, Wait, what just happened? There were threads that did what? And there were times when I wasn't clear what Ella thought the mission was that she was fighting so hard for. But, for the most part, I have to confess that I just let those moments pass me by and didn't worry about them too much. I'd much rather have a unique and original sci-fi premise that occasionally confuses me in small spots than a boring premise that I've seen a hundred times before!
If you're a fan of mind-bending sci-fi, video games or dystopians in general, I'd definitely pick this one up! Then get ready to read a story that's unique and exhilarating! I give this book 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Nexis is a virtual reality game, set in a futuristic world, that allows players to experience life the way they want to. For six hours once every 18, Aristocrats and Disfavored, the two main social groups in the futuristic city of Evanescence are joined in a game that - in theory - allows them to bring down all barriers and social norms, and experience the world as it used to be before it was destroyed with only a select few experiencing privilege in the modern world. Players can choose to go on quests or focus their game on management, strategy or even simulation. Nexis can be anything for anyone.
It is in this world that Ellanis finds solace. After her father, the creator of the game that propelled them to the highest of social classes, was ripped from her in a freak accident along with her two legs, Ellanis finds herself kept prisoner in her own home, by an appointed guardian all too eager to spend her inheritance. Trying to escape what seems like a hopeless life, she submerges herself in the virtual reality her father created trying to feel close to him again and regain some semblance of her old self.
It is in that virtual reality that Ellanis, once fully bodied again, meets Gus, an Aristocrat choosing to play the game as a Natural, without Modifications or Alterations done to his body to meet the standards set by the Aristocratic society in the real world that everyone adheres to trying to stand out and appear unique in a maze of utter perfection genetic engineering has helped create. His quest is to destroy the faux Aristocratic system, as it appears to exist in Nexis as well. He recruits Ellanis to help him and another select few in his quest, and unbeknownst to her, Ellanis embarks on a journey along a path set out for her long before she ever considered playing the game or met Gus... a path, that would forever change the world as she knew it.
The world Ms. Davroe build for her characters is incredibly complex in its simplicity. It takes the good and the bad of our society, the vile and the corrupt, and paints a picture of a new world with all its wonders and all its inequalities, whilst also submerging everything in a wave of high-tech and futuristic yet somehow familiar and almost old-school concepts, creating a world whose possible future existence isn't far fetched at all. It is a world anyone can find something to identify themselves with; a world everyone who likes to look at our consumerist and capitalistic society with a critical eye will appreciate. It highlights those perpetual issues beautifully, without becoming overbearing, and instils a feeling of pity towards the individuals that have fallen victims of the system, especially on the privileged end.
Ellanis herself is a strong female character, yet one that has her weaknesses. She doesn't act too mature for her age, but she isn't immature either. She embodies what I'd like to think a real teenage girl her age would be, act and feel like, if they were to find themselves in the same situation. She neither fawns over male attention nor is she absolutely set in her resolutions and her efforts towards attaining her goal. She is real. She has character.
To this comes that the narrative doesn't force itself upon the reader. Ellanis' feelings are something the readers get to experience themselves by being witness to her thought-process, decisions and actions. Given, her inner turmoil could have taken the leading role in some instances, instead of the analytical side of her always staying in the forefront, but the fact that the readers were left to put the pieces together themselves, and weren't fed what to think throughout the book was definitely an enjoyable aspect of Ms. Davroe's writing style.
The male lead, I believe will be able to enchant and charm every lady to read this book. I must admit to have been completely smitten with Gus during the scenes and chapters which took place in Nexis. I loved his demeanour and the way he interacted with Ellanis, the patience he showed her, the understanding and affection he felt towards her. The built up of the romance was gradual, and not overpowering. It was balanced by the overall quests each of them were on and by the fact that Ellanis - at the very same time - had not forgotten the ordeals she had to face in her real world.
I believe it comes as no surprise to all of you that I absolutely loved this book by now. Even if Sci-Fi isn't your usual go-to genre (and until now it wasn't mine either) I absolutely encourage everyone to give this book a chance. I was pleasantly surprised myself and am now waiting on the edge of my seat for the next book in the series to hit the stands on December 6th. Honestly, if not the anticipation, then the wait might kill me.
What are you still doing here reading this? Go pick up the book!
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book blew my mind. I finished it in a little over 24 hours and that is only because I had to work. Still, I just couldn't keep away. If you're under the impression that the synopsis of the book is too revealing (I was), wait until you read it, because it is not even coming close.
This book is like an onion (ha-ha), with hidden layers that show up in the most unexpected places. Ellani is a girl with natural everything, her appearance wasn't changed or altered at all since her birth. And she hates that about herself. Everyone around her is showing off their Mods and Alts, and she's stuck with her boring tan skin and grey eyes. But then a life-shattering accident happens, leaving Ellani all on her own with her priorities in disarray, and with nothing to do except to venture into a virtual reality, Nexis, which is much much better than what real life can offer (Matrix much?).
She discovers new world, works on her stamina, falls in love, goes on a lifechanging quest... The Ella we meet in the first chapter shows us the society that is normal in her world, but after Nexis nothing stays the same.
Through the story the main character goes through a lot of development. She's somebody to cry with, to laugh with, to worry with, to love with. I could see sense and purpose behind most of her actions and that makes her very believable (and so loveable).
The love story in this book is mindblowing! And that ending... I mean, I don't know how I can survive till the next book comes out, and that's even before this one is out (A.L. Davroe's blog says she's 80% or more done with the sequel, so that gives me so much hope). Even so, I am on cloud nine right now.
In my opinion, this book will fly off the shelves because it's that good. And these series could easily turn into an amazing motion picture series (because they would look amazing on screen, and the dialogue is that brilliant). 5 out of 5 stars and easily the most exciting read of 2015 for me!
Thank you A.L. Davroe, for writing this book! I am so glad this exists <3
I was one of the beta readers for this book and Oh. Em. Gee. This is one of my favorite books EVER. I've read multiple versions and I swear it only gets better with each read. I even made my husband read it. And HE loves it too! He's always like, "When's Amanda's (A.L.'s) book coming out? We should buy that book. I liked that book." Heh, men...
Anyway, as a lover of many genres I thought this book fit right inbetween everything -- with just enough to satisfy all my little cravings. Ella's futuristic world, the dystopian set up of Evanescence, the fantasy aspects of the game, the romance between Ella and Guster, the exciting twists of the plot, the YA voice. And the ending. Oh man, if there is one thing I love about Amanda it's her killer endings. Seriously woman, the spider video thing? Who made your brain?!
Reading this book is like watching a movie. The descriptions are rich and vivid, the dialogue is organic, there's a pinch of humor, and Ella's character is so poignant. I'm talking emotional rollercoaster here -- the good kind that makes you get so invested that you can't put the book down because you have to know what happens and you end up reading through the whole night -- which I've done all three times I've read this book. If someone doesn't option this for a movie they are INSANE.
As much as I love Ella and Gus, because, come one who DOESN'T love Gus?! I liked Meems most. I don't really understand why. Maybe just because I was secretly routing for her and her robot self or something??? And Delia, what's up with her? I want to know more! I'm pretty sure she's gonna be in the sequel???
I recommend this book like a thousand times over to anyone who loves SF, fantasy, or YA. And even if you don't read these genres regularly (or in combination) I STILL recommend this book to you because it's fantastically written and the author is super talented.
I'm not a video gamer, but if I was, Nexis would be the game I would want to play.
NEXIS was such a unique book and I enjoyed uncovering all of its mysteries. Ella is a Natural born in a city filled with genetically-altered to be flawless Aristocrats and all she wants is to fit in. After a tragic accident—or not so accident as it's revealed—Ella escapes her new reality in her fathers game world for the very first time and finds out that the game isn't as it seems. In fact, the game was made for her and a very important mission she must complete.
It was very easy to fall into caring about Ella. She is dealt some crappy cards and doesn't have anyone to turn to. The world building was pretty fantastic and it was neat that we got to experience two very different worlds. There were some great twists and turns thrown in in both the game and in Ella's real world. There is some romance which was nice. I liked Guster from the beginning and the connection that Ella and him have seemed real and strong. There is a big Guster mystery revealed at the end of NEXIS and it has me giddy with the possibilities. Unless you read the book you will have no clue what I am talking about, but I have my fingers crossed that her connection is with the new possibility.
The ending of NEXIS leaves a lot of new questions and possibilities for the future. I fully plan on continuing this series and I look forward to the release of book 2.
* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Intense and addictive, Nexis is the kind of book that will have even non-readers dying to re-enter the virtual reality of this book, even if they don't have a limit of 8 hours a day to live in this world.
The events of the novel take place over the course of a year or so following the night where Ella's father was honored for creating a game that had quickly become beloved among the aristocrats of Evanescence and the disfavored who lived outside the domed city. As they're driving home, an accident changes Ella's life for good. During her misery, her android nanny, Meems finally convinces her to play her father's game for the first time and she immediately, falls in love with the virtual reality world her father developed. Although this book takes place many years in the future after a change in the American government leads to a changing year system, A.L. Devroe immediately hooks the reader into the virtual world that seems much closer to the one we know than the one Ella has grown up in. Many funny moments ensue as Ella experiences things as simple as touching grass, dirt, and even worms for the first time, and is particularly realistic because in many cases, she has no idea what common animals are or why certain types of "technology," like straws, are useful.
In addition to worlds that are very similar to ours, Ella visits locales that are previous historical time periods, such as the 60s, which were full of bell bottoms and slang, like "groovy" that seems completely bizarre to Ella and her friends. In addition, she visits worlds that seem to be allusions to parts of famous movies, like Wizard of Oz. Ella is a very intelligent character with natural abilities as a programmer, even though she would much rather have been selected for the role of a clothing designer.
The aristocrats reminded me of the inhabitants of the capital in The Hunger Games with their insistence on paying a lot of money on frivolous things, like permanent body mods, like plastic surgery for cheek and forehead implants or bizarre looking eyes to the less-than-permanent alts, like hair color and laugh-sound changes.
This story doesn't tie up all the loose ends in particular with regard to the character of Gus, who Ella fell in love with in the virtual world of Nexis, so I can't wait until next year when the next book comes out to learn more about him and how other situations turn out.
Finally, I loved the plethora of allusions to literature and historical information, which gave Nexis more of a literary bent than might otherwise be the case. If you like sci-fi and fantasy worlds that give you an edge over the author, you'll find it in Nexis.
This would be more of a 3.5 star book for me. It wasn't because it was bad, it was actually quite interesting and fresh, but there were some aspects of it that I wasn't a fan of and thought needed to be fixed. So before we get into the review, I would like to thank Netgalley and Entangled Teen for providing me with this ARC. It is so awesome I was accepted to read this! Alright, lets begin. CHARACTERS -------------- First off, I thought our main character Ellani needed some work. To me, she seemed like a girl who you were told was special, but really didn't have many special qualities and was actually very bland. [image error] We never got to know much about her except that she was in love with Gus, and she seemed like she didn't have much of a backbone. She wasn't smart like we were told, her actions simply didn't show it, nor was she this strong, independent woman that we were told she was. Now Gus, the other main character was cute, but he also was not developed well at all. He tries to banter, and apparently he's just GORGEOUS! [image error] He honestly did everything for her and seemed overall sweet, but we know nothing about it, and that's the very thing that irritates me about it. You can't write a character that is just a swoonworthy boy. I also did not buy into the romance. It was filled with insta love! Ew! [image error] They immediately liked each other and made out. Their relationship developed way to quickly and it felt so unnatural and choppy that I rolled my eyes. You have to wait, let the romance grow and learn about each other, not lust over each other and decide you need a boy like you need air after the first encounter. *face palm* THAT ISN'T HOW IT WORKS SWEETHEART! NOT AT ALL! There was also no true plot until the end, and that is a major flaw. When you write a book, you need a goal, especially in a sci-fi novel. This just felt so jumbled together and unnatural, but the writing was actually good. I thought it was fresh and addictive, so that was the best part about the novel. One thing that was done right was the world building. It was done so well and I was never confused about the world, and I loved that aspect, especially the game, which I have to give Davroe a high five. So yeah, this wasn't my favorite, but it has so much potential and I'm excited to see what happens in the next book.
**I received this book for free from (Publisher) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
*Genre* Young Adult, Science Fiction, Cyberpunk *Rating* 3.5
Nexis is the first installment in A.L. Davoe's Tricksters series. The story is set 231 years Post-America, which was destroyed by a Bio-Nuclear War and the subsequent fall-out that left the survivors living in Domes. Nexis takes place in a domed city called Evanescence. Here there is a definite disconnect between what are called Aristocrats who use modifications and alternations not unlike Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, and the Disfavored who are exposed to a very unhealthy environment. One could relate this story to the Hunger Games (IE the Capitol) as well as Bethany Hagen's Landry Park.
I just finished this book about 2 minutes ago. My heart is pounding. It is absolutely thrilling, beautifully written, and truly the novel for a trickster. I absolutely CANNOT wait for March 2017 when the sequel Redux is expected to come out!!! I'm dying waiting for it. This book was so good and I'd say that everyone should read it! Romance, action, fighting, tech, mystery, sci-fi, futuristic, and thrilling... this book has got something for every reader.
I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.
YA/NA, can we ever really escape this genre. It is so ubiquitous and so tempting. Look at that cover, check out that blurb, can you see why I would be tempted?
So this is a post-apocalytic dystopian where there are strict class rules and little to no room for upward mobility. Ella, grew up on the lower fringes of the Aristocracy, and is a Natural, meaning that unlike most of the Aristocrats (particularly the Elites) she has not been Altered or Modified-though she does still have a thought modification chip as everyone is her world does. But her father, in one of those rare opportunities for upward mobility, creates a society altering virtual reality game that raises them to the heights of their society.
If you note all the random capitalizations, that is as the author intends, as there is an explanation in the initial info-dumping of the story about how they spell things differently now and they use more capitalization.
There are a ton of really interesting concepts, it is kind of like we are plopped down into a hyper technical Panem Capital, but instead of the 13 districts we have a virtual wasteland which all but the Aristocrats must scrabble to survive in. And I suspect that if I read more YA/NA I might recognize more of the motifs. It wasn’t that it is a poorly done mashup, the world building is cohesive enough. It is just that some things seem vaguely familiar, as if I have read the blurbs or seen the movie trailers, not enough to make me think of something directly, like I did with the Hunger Games, but just enough to catch my attention. And I think that all these concepts being jammed in were what made it such a slog. Plus, it took about the first quarter of the book to really feel like things were going anywhere and it just about bludgeons you to death on the life lessons of loving yourself and humanity’s penchant for destruction. There’s no subtlety at all.
But then we hit the 25% mark and things seem to speed up. I spent a good bit of that section with an uncomfortable lump in the pit of my stomach. Basically what is happening is this: Ella has her Real Life which is unabashedly awful, and Nexis Life which is mostly very good. In Real Life she has basically no one, and in Nexis Life she has friends in the form of the Trickesters and a boy she loves. In Real Life she needs to find out why the bad things are happening (that is very obtuse but I don’t want to spoil it) and in Nexis she is on a quest with her fellow Tricksters. I make it sound prosaic, but it isn’t it is really good and there is quite a bit of emotional growth.
And then at around the 50% mark things slow back down to a crawl. There is still a lot of emotional stuff going on, but the story itself seems to revert back to its snail pace and I almost couldn’t force myself through it. Yes we were able to see the relationship between Ella and Gus (her love interest) deepen. But somehow that didn’t seem like enough. And there were some action adventure sequences too, but that didn’t seem enough either. I know the whole thing is only around 300 pages, but it seriously feels like the longest book I have ever read.
And then bang, at around the three quarters mark we are back to warp speed and an enormous head trip. Actually several of them, and it was very well done, interesting and exciting. I became excited to see how the book would end and where the series would go. Then the author sets up for a freaking love triangle for the next book and the love interest I like better does something boneheaded too.
Honestly I struggled with how to rate this. It was hard for me to finish and there were parts I didn’t like. But there were parts I absolutely enjoyed too. And the entire concept was really interesting, and I genuinely like Ella and Gus, though his absolute enrapture over her is a slightly off-putting and one of those NA tropes I don’t care for. And I will almost certainly read the next one because I am fiendishly curious where this whole thing is going. But you know what? I have a feeling that I will start out a bit miffed when I do start it and I hope the author resolves the whole love triangle thing PDQ.
So where does that leave me? Not a stellar rating, but an OK one. And I think this may turn out to be a popular book, probably deservedly so. It is well written, intricate, and has some heft to it. It is just that I am at least a half step out of sync from this book’s primary audience.
*Note: I received an advanced readers copy of this book through Netgalley from the publisher, Entangled Teen, in exchanged for an honest review :) *
Everyone has body insecurities, whether it be their hair, voice, the shape of their nose, how thick their thighs are, or color of their eyes. In the domed city, Evanescence, the citizens can genetically alter their appearances. Everything from the color of their eyes, hair, and skin to the shape of their body can all be altered through alterations and modifications. Parents can alter their unborn child to be "perfect" from the moment they're born. Ellani Drexel is a natural, meaning that she hasn't had any alterations or modifications done to her and to the Aristocrats, she's the ugliest thing they have seen. To them, having purple skin, neon green eyes, and rainbow hair is the normal.
Ellani's father creates a virtual reality game, Nexis, that quickly gains popularity amongst the people of Evanescence and makes both of them Aristocrats. Ellani wants nothing more but to fit in with the Aristocrats instead of being looked at like a piece of trash, but when she asks her father if she can get an alteration or modification, he prohibits her in order to protect the promise he had made to her late mother who had died when she was very young. Frustrated, on the way home from a ball, she continues to argue with her father when suddenly their pod crashes, killing her father and taking both of her legs.
After a few days after the incident, Ellani realizes that she is no longer free to go anywhere; not because she no longer has her legs, but that she is being kept as a prisoner. Everyone in Evanescence thinks that both Ellani and her father are dead. She tries to contact her friend but soon realizes that she has also been cut off from any social devices. Her only escape out of the nightmare she is living is to play her fathers game, Nexis. In the game she meets a skilled player, Guster, who guides her through the world before the bioneuclar war that destroyed all of Earth. Animals no longer roam the land of Earth and plant life no longer grows. All food that is eaten in Evanescence, has been grown in labs by chemicals. Rain is acidic and the air outside of the dome is no longer breathable.
But Nexis was created full of plant life, animal, and earthly structures that are all foreign to Ellani. There are clear blue skies with white clouds that move and animals that no one ever knew of until Nexis. But as stunning as Nexis may be, it isn't the game that everyone thinks it is. It's been waiting for Ellani.
From the moment I read the first page to the moment I flipped the last page, I was entirely captivated by the story. It was such a unique story and plot that it was phenomenal book. The game, Nexis, made me want to play the game. There was so much detail put into the story that in painted a clear image in my mind.
There were so many layers to the story, it was a never ending adventure. This book was one of the kind of stories that never got boring because the plot kept going up, never having a drop off point like some other stories. But also having a story with so many different characteristics to it can also be overwhelming, Nexis though, wasn't overwhelming at all with its many layers. The only thing that bothered me about all of the layers, was that it did get a little confusing as to what the main plot of the book was.
I, personally, was able to relate to Ellani and I think that anyone who has ever had the want to fit in with a certain crowd of people or be seen as a certain way, can. One of the big themes in the book is personal acceptance of who you are. Ellani just wants to fit in like any other person instead of being looked at like a monster, just like anyone who wants to fit into a group of people. All of the characters had a mystery to them that made you want to know more. All of them together only added more want to finish the book to find out what happens next. Nexis is the first book in the Tricksters trilogy and after finishing the first book, I can't wait for the second book to be released.
This book was filled with detail; it was a never ending journey of mystery and captivating characters. Nexis by A.L. Davroe is released on December 1st by Entangled Teen Publishing.
When I started reading Nexis, I thought I was going to get a dark dystopia. At least, that's how A.L. Davroe sets up the story. Before you know it though, you're delved into a magical world full of adventure and deception. I could not put this one down, I constantly needed to know what was next and had questions I wanted answered at every turn. Nexis is just brilliantly weaved and creative throughout.
Our protagonist, Ellani, makes it so easy to want to follow her story. She's down to earth and relatable on every level, yet at the same time has a strength to her. She is forced to grow up in so many ways on so many different levels through this story, and watching her come out on top makes you constantly root for her. I am so intrigued to see where her story will take us next.
Next, you're introduced to a slew of fellas in the beginning of the book, and once in the game of "Nexis" any one of them could be the mysterious Guster. Guster is simply, for lack of a better word, perfect. I genuinely loved his role in this book and everything he was made to be. I was literally so surprised at the end of the book of not only who we find out he may be in real life but also of how many times this story was able to whip my brain back and forth. Every time a hint was revealed, I would scroll back to the opening chapters for clues...but A.L. Davroe did a very good job of covering her tracks to keep you guessing.
Once I got to the last quarter of the book, it was impossible to put down. I honestly kept feeling like I was in a tangled spider web as much as Elle did. One moment I was believing one thing and in the next I was questioning my own thoughts. This debut is a fantastically written sci-fi, fantasy. I kept having the, "Wait, maybe I should put the book down and go do something else so I don't finish." That thought didn't get too far, considering I'd do a task and want to pick it right back up.Overall, I'm blown away by Nexis. This story is everything I want in aa book and with how it ends, I am dying for the next book in series and cannot wait to see what happens next!!
This book was extremely hard to get into I have never spent this much time on a YA book before it took me three and a half weeks to read this because the beginning is like trudging through mud the pacing in the beginning is oh so painfully slow in my opinion and it took me so long to get into this I really got immersed into the story by 35%. I feel like the pacing of the plot is so off and unevenly distributed throughout the story the beginning was slow as molasses the middle was the perfect pace and the ending was so fast I got whiplash. These are all varying degrees of plot pace that would have done the story so much justice to be leveled out . Moving on, I loved the virtual reality game. To me this idea was so inventive and unique to see and I loved the idea of it and I thought it was so cool I found myself wishing it was real. The romance was moving too fast at first but then I grew to enjoy it and respect it for how and what it was. I didn't feel any emotional connection or attachment to any of the characters i enjoyed Guster and Ellani for the most part. Speaking of Ellani she was okay but she annoyed me to no end sometimes with the things she would say and her actions. The sci fi elements I wish were explained better it was very info dumpy as for the world it was interesting and we had a clear depiction but not really a clear basis for it . The writing style in the beginning helped aid in how slow the pacing was somehow and helped give me the reading slump I had because yes when I started this book it put me in a reading slump. Toward the middle and end the writing along with the plot became more captivating and enjoyable. Overall, I only reccomend this to those who like Science fiction which was why I picked it up otherwise I wouldn't reccomend it because of how slow the start was and how mediocre it was as a whole to me but I did find some enjoyment in it.
How much I enjoyed “Nexis” took me by surprise. Of course it sounded like something I would be interested in, otherwise I would not have read it in the first place. What I wasn’t expecting was to read the last page and five minutes later already be jonesing for the sequel.
There were a few issues at the beginning. It took a little while to get into it, and the prose could be a bit flowery at times. Be patient. By the time you get into the virtual reality game called “Nexis” things pick up quickly. I really wish we had a game like that to play. It really sounded like a lot of fun. You know, aside from it tying into the dystopian outside world. That is most certainly not a place in which I want to live. There was a plot twist I picked up fairly early, but it in no way affected my enjoyment of the book.
The world-building is excellent, both inside and outside of the game. A lot of time was taken to make the reader understand the society. In fact, that was a lot of the reason the beginning was somewhat slow. All of the information actually turns out to be important throughout the rest of the book.
Of course there is a love story. Let me warn you now there is some instalove, but once you read on a bit you realize the game actually encourages heightened feelings. It’s a valid reason, so it didn’t bother me like that normally does.
I can’t tell you how hard I shipped the two main characters. It would actually be embarrassing. What I will say is I am captain, first mate, and all of the crew of the ship, and the ship is the size of the titanic.
I recommend “Nexis” for anyone in high school and up who likes dystopian books mixed with some steampunk and a large helping of romance.
This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Let me tell you this much .... I WANT The 2nd book right now....That being said i will give the book 4.5 stars, not because i did not love it. Nexis is the 1st book from the Tricksters series , and after reading the first book i am sure the second one will just amazing. After reading the synopsis for the book i just had to read this book, and the publisher was nice enough and send it to me.
This is a dystopian book where all the war had ruined the planed so people had no choice but to separate themselves , from aristocrats (living in a place safe from all the radiations to the disfavored (the ones leaving where even the rain it will kill you in a week from the radiations)
Ella how all her friends call her, she was born a natural (natural birth no alterations). Have to say that in the beginning i hate it the book because i thought the writer was saying that you can be beautiful in only a single way until the moment Ella's father explain her why he wants to remain a natural. Of course after that i started hating her for good few chapters, until she opened her eyes and started understanding what her father was trying to tell her. Nexis is a game that Ella's father had build it for the people to live a life that would actually want to have , and in this reality will be able to feel everything from hunger to sleep or love. Also in here you could see how the earth use to look like before the war, with all the grass and beautiful sky.
This book had me through so many emotions that to one point had to put it down take a break and calm down (from crying/ being upset/ or laughing so hard that my chicks will hurt). Still I have to have the next book now.
Wonderful, interesting and deep; Nexis brings the reader into a world of fake perfection and virtual reality. This world is riddled with danger, mystery and back-stabbing elites. In the domed world of Evanescence, appearance is everything and the rich do anything they can to achieve it. A Natural Born amongst genetically-altered Aristocrats, Ella is an outcast. Faced with many challenges, Elle's life is turned upside down as her world is ripped apart. I loved this novel. It was a strong commentary of the rich, our obsession with beauty and our dangerous reliance on technology. Each moment had me thinking deeply and wondering about what was occurring in the novel. The story was fast passed and was very well written. The characters were enchanting and unique. Elle, the main character, was diverse, driven and strong. I liked her as a character immensely. Romance wise, the novel was stellar. As the story developed the romance just got better and better. I simply loved it. The story was filled with plot twists and interesting moments. I am very excited for the next novel in the series. I very much recommend this book and give Nexis the rating of FOUR AND A HALF STARS OUT OF FIVE!!!
Thanks to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing for giving this book to review.
Nexis is a really enjoyable sci-fi/dystopian novel which has lots of action, romance, mystery and a few twists. This book keeps you on the edge of your seat as it is fast paced especially once Ella has started her quest in Nexis. I loved the idea of Nexis and part of me would love for it to be real.
Ella has a hard time in this book as she is depressed and confused, and she is an outsider who does not fit in. However, she is also resilient and intelligent. Gus is confident, cocky and charismatic, and he is caring towards Ella and they have a real chemistry. However, he might have an ulterior motive and I could not tell who he was in the real world. I felt that the side characters could be more developed as the only one got to know is Meems.
I found the ending rushed and confusing but I am looking forward to reading the next book Redux. I would recommend Nexis to people who enjoyed Of Beauty and Beast by Stacey Jay and The Dark Realm by Anthea Sharp.
Nexis This is the story of the furture but could be present or the past . Picture a world separated the haves and The have-nots Where cyborgs assist in a most human manner. The charactors are so live you can feel their emotions through the authors words . There is a boy and a girl and a whole lot of twist and turns . This book kept me so engrossed I did not want to stop reading. There was never a boring or dull moment It does not matter what age you are teen or older , you will love this story. The story take place it 2 different worlds. What is real and what is not. The depth that the author puts into this story is amazing. I can not go into much detail because you have to read to appreciate the story . This is a 5 star read.
This is as good a time to write this review as any, given how much furor Harlequin Teen has received over The Black Witch lately... I read Nexis with full intentions of reading the sequel, Redux in time for its release, but I can't in good conscience read Redux, let alone finish Nexis. Which I feel really terrible about because I received Redux not just in exchange for an honest review from the publisher, but I got it as a granted Wish on NetGalley... If anything, I hope this post raises awareness as to the types of things publishers should be aware of when considering sensitivity reads.
This series has an interesting enough premise. It's set in a post-apocalyptic world (called Evanescence, by the way. I hope that sets the tone...) where humans have let the Earth fall to ruin. The poor are left to rot in the toxic air of the outside world while the elite literally live in their own bubble of ignorance. It's essentially a cheap imitation of The Diabolic. The elite pat themselves on the back for doing a favour to the poor by creating virtual reality video games that allows people to essentially live a second life. (So basically, virtual reality Sims.) Fine. Cool. The author says to just roll with it and let it happen.
So I do.
In amongst this dystopian world is Ellani, who happens to go by 500 different pet names, half of them cringe-worthy. She's a stuck up, bratty teen obsessed with boys and disrespectful to her father, who tries so hard to teach her how the Earth once was and all the terrible things human beings have done to it in their selfishness. I can see where Davroe is going with this. It's heavy-handed, and you expect Ellani to get it at some point and realise she has to do something about it. But nope.
In one ear and out the other.
While her father's busy trying to teach her empathy for the world that once was, she's too preoccupied with She also happens to solely accept validation in the form of how many boys notice and fall in love with her. So vapid is she, she's apparently "in love with" the prince, who never gives her the time of day, never said a word to her, and doesn't even know who she is. Not only that, he owns what Davroe calls Dolls, who are basically slaves he uses to experiment cosmetic surgery upon... If this were, say, The Hunger Games, this would be making all sorts of really intense social commentary on just how corrupt and beauty-obsessed the society has become. But no, this, just like everything else, is treated as the norm.
Not only is cosmetic surgery completely normalised in this world, so is assimilation of culture. It's explained early on that At this point, I have to put down my ereader and whisper 'eugenics' to myself, which is never a word I want to associate with books I'm reading unless it's something making important statements against it. This book is not, and in fact, is so blasé, I almost miss when they use the actual word eugenics to explain the way people look so homogenous. And it's not in a "eugenics happened and now the world is fucked up" way. But in a "and also, eugenics, so ANYWAY..." way. Casual as you please. As if the reader's just supposed to accept it and move on. Because that's exactly what the characters do...
So, Ellani enters the game, which takes all its world-building from how the world used to be before mankind destroyed it. And for 4.5 seconds, she's taken with how beautiful it is and what a shame that the sky and wildlife and trees and rain are gone. And I think, thank god, maybe she'll be motivated to do something about it in the real world.
But then a boy comes along. And it's instalove, so everything else she was inspired by has instantly been wiped clean from her brain (not literally, but wouldn't that be interesting?) because clearly boys are more important than stopping planetary extinction...
Just when you think I'm done describing the offensive things being so casually name-dropped in this novel, I have one more horrifying tidbit. The big, instigating plot device that gets Ellani into the game in the first place is this big crash which (spoiler alert), Fine, you could see it coming from miles away. Alright. But then she loses her legs. And given how poorly Davroe has handled literally everything else in this novel so far, you can maybe see where this is going. Two or so chapters later, she enters the game and discovers she can have her legs back. Well, I was looking forward to seeing a disabled character kick ass in a dystopian world (again, please see The Hunger Games!), but sure, this isn't a horrifying, ableist alternative at all...
I can now glean a couple messages Davroe is leaving with this:
Attention from cute boys is all the validation girls need. Being beautiful is all girls should aspire to be. God forbid, if you wind up disabled, you're better off dead. You know what was a good idea? The Holocaust.
Cool. With that, I have absolutely no interest, or intention of reading the rest of this series. I sincerely hope Entangled Publishing reads this review and strives to do better next time.