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4.35  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Like everyone else she knows, Mallory is an orphan of the corporate war. As a child, she lost her parents, her home, and her entire building in an airstrike. As an adult, she lives in a cramped hotel room with eight other people, all of them working multiple jobs to try to afford water and make ends meet. And the job she’s best at is streaming a popular VR war game. The be ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: May 4th 2021 by Gallery / Saga Press
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Nicole Kornher-Stace Hi Kate!

Firebreak has ownvoices aromantic/asexual representation in the form of the protagonist Mal's hopeless (or is it??) platonic crush on someone.…more
Hi Kate!

Firebreak has ownvoices aromantic/asexual representation in the form of the protagonist Mal's hopeless (or is it??) platonic crush on someone. It was important for me to include a M/F platonic crush--with all the obsessive intensity of a romantic/sexual crush--because that's something I've always wanted to see in a book and never have.

That said, the words "aromantic" and "asexual" don't appear in the text explicitly. I prefer to write implicit aro/ace representation because I don't want to perpetuate any ideas that strong platonic M/F relationships in fiction are "only for" aro/ace readers, but so far many such readers have recognized themselves in Mal.

Hope this helps!(less)

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Nicole Kornher-Stace
Mar 16, 2021 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Not a review! There are a few questions that have been coming up repeatedly from early readers and interested readers via Twitter, email, etc. and I thought collecting them here (with their answers) might be helpful, so here we go!

1. "I don't play video games! Will I be totally lost?" While yes, it's a book about a gamer, it's also a book about a gamer as written by a person who a.) has a lot of experience explaining games to nongamers, and b.) is a big big fan of when a story starts off as one
Karina Sumner-Smith
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read a few early chapters of this book and loved them -- then was afraid that the rest wouldn't hold up. I was afraid, truly, that my early enthusiasm was just setting me up for disappointment. Then I read the rest of the draft, and loved the rest of the book *more*. Truly, FIREBREAK is weapons-grade awesome and I can't wait to read the final version. ...more
Debbie Gascoyne
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I still consider Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp one of the best YA fantasies of the past several years, and its sequel, Latchkey, did not disappoint. So imagine my delight when I received an advance copy of her latest stand-alone novel for adults (old or young), Fiirebreak. And to my even greater delight, Firebreak proved to be as satisfying and thought provoking as its predecessors. There’s no question that Kornher-Stace is a writerly force to be reckoned with, and she deserves a much wi ...more
Apr 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC. Listen to the full review here:

I teach an apocalyptic worldbuilding class. In it, we discuss the ways the world might devolve, and the implications for the setting of a story. These include climate degradation, nuclear fallout, corporate hegemony, totalitarianism, constant civil war, and, more recently, a technocracy that uses surveillance technology to enforce class hierarchies.

Nicole Kornher-Stace took every single
trishla ⚡ | YourLocalBookReader
5 stars.

"Does it make it better, what she did, if she was only following orders when she did it? Fuck if I know that, either. "
This book was described as Ready Player 1 meets streaming and I have to say it hit ALL the marks for me. I really felt so immersed in this story from the very first line. Maybe it's seeing the "hustle and gig economies" crumple my friends, maybe it's the fact that collecting rainwater is illegal in many states under the guise of safety. Maybe it's the fact that over t
Leaf Grabenstetter
If you, like me, absolutely adored Archivist Wasp and Latchkey, and were always niggled by the tantalizing fragments of a world almost like our own, where the ghost may have come from and how it all fell apart... here it is, and it’s glorious. What Kornher-Stace has done here, writing a post-apocalypse backwards to its origin, is like nothing I’ve read anywhere else.
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was provided an ARC through a GoodReads giveaway. I'll try to give an honest and as spoiler-free review as I can.

I won't provide a synopsis except to say that if you're looking for a story similar to Ready Player One, you will be sorely disappointed because this is an actual story with teeth, heart, and blood. The main character is not fighting to win a competition to become the leader of a corporation and keep that wheel of dystopian capitalism going, and her friends aren't palling around in
Mar 22, 2021 rated it liked it
Review of eGalley

Orphaned in the corporate war, Mallory lives in a hotel room with eight other similarly-orphaned young people. They all work multiple jobs, hoping to earn enough to purchase water [a dollar an ounce at the company store] and pay for the room. Mallory’s best job, the one she excels at, is streaming a popular virtual reality war game. For Nycorix [Mallory’s avatar], the highlight of the game is catching sight of SpecOps operatives, celebrity supersoldiers grown and owned by the co
Mar 22, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, science-fiction
I was provided an ARC by NetGalley and Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.

Firebreak is set in a dystopian 22nd century society, where corporations fill the role of an ineffectual government and dehydration is a constant companion. The main character, Mal, is just trying to keep herself afloat by working multiple jobs and scraping together enough subscribers by streaming a video game to keep her water account full enough to stave off kidney failure. When a chance encounter in her virt
Apr 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace shows a dystopian futuristic America in which people are reduced to their consumer status, even more so than our current world. Water costs a dollar an ounce and a single quart is what is allotted to most consumer citizens for an entire week. A quart to drink, bathe, make food, flush the toilet. There is a constant war between Stellaxis Innovations and Greenleaf Industries, who fight for control over the remaining megacities that haven’t been drowned by water or ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book from start to finish. It checks off everything I want to see in a five star book: steller writing, characters I care about, and world building that feel effortless without beating me over the head with long descriptions and complicated rules. Firebreak is the intersection of everything I love in speculative fiction.

Writing style: each sentence is like a puzzle piece fitting into the next. Each section leading into the next to form a tight story that I plowed through in only a h
Mar 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first time reading a book by Nicole Kornher-Stace and it was a pretty pleasent experience, so I'm not sure about the YA books, but I will most likely read any further series aimed at adults.

I have received this book in exchange for an honest review, thank you Gallery / Saga Press and NetGalley for the opportunity.


I enjoy stories about struggle, and this book is nothing if it didn't have struggle at the basis of its world. The reality the author paints here for Mal and her
˗ˏˋ maddie ˊˎ˗
Apr 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaway-wins
full disclosure: i received an arc in a goodreads giveaway.

i loved this. loved it. loved, loved, loved it. i finished this last night and wanted to sit with it a bit before letting any tiny bit of it go, or trying to break it into the disparate parts to get to the why i loved it so much. (and i'm sure i'll forget bits here and there because there was a lOT.) there's just so much of it that feels perfect for me and i don't know how the giveaways system knew (and it HAD to know): this is the book
Kath ❅
Book provided via Netgalley for review
This is not exactly what I was expecting but it was still quite good! I didn't know much about this going in and I hadn't read anything else by this author but I had a pretty good time with this.

I wanted to read this when I saw it on Netgalley because it seemed to be about issues with monopolies and technology that I've been concerned with. The cover did make me think this was going to be more about technology than it was. Mostly, this was about the issues
Vernon Luckert
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Review is of a free ARE. I almost stopped reading this book after the first few pages as it seemed to be a Gamer type book, and I am most definitely not a gamer and have absolutely no interest in gaming. But I decided to continue on for a few more pages, and I am glad I did. I really enjoyed this book; and this author really has talent. I am going to have to find some of her earlier works to enjoy. For me, this book really seemed to highlight some of the same kinds of issues that we are experien ...more
Kayla (krakentoagoodbook)
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well I loved this so much! It was so full of action - not only do we get exciting moments with the VR game, but we also have a great investigation of what's really going on in the real world. All of this builds up to make a truly epic conclusion.

This book is fundamentally about human rights. Most of the US is now underwater, and two corporations basically control everything. Mal has to share a room with 8 other people and lives in this old town where people can barely afford enough water to sta
Edwin Howard
Apr 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
In FIREBREAK, by Nicole Kornher-Stace, the future is divided between to warring corporations. One of the only ways to scrape by is playing SecOps, a popular online war game where users are trying to crack the top of the ranks and then cash in on their performance and notoriety. Mallory and her best friend Jessa are mildly successful at the game and stream their online play daily. When they stumble upon one of the celebrity supersoldiers in the game, they are offered a new job to continue lookin ...more
*I received an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Pitched as Ready Player One meets Black Mirror, Firebreak is set in a near future U.S. that has devolved into two corporation-nations battling for control of whatever land hasn't flooded. It follows Mal as she works multiple jobs in a gig economy trying to survive.

Dystopia in media isn't usually my thing and my gaming experience is pretty much limited to Animal Crossing, but I saw the main character listed as aro/ace and knew I
Paul Cochrun
Apr 19, 2021 rated it liked it
I read a good amount before I started blogging, but once I started writing about books I really started to pay attention to what makes up certain genres and tropes… the good, the bad, and the ugly. So when it came to reading Firebreak, my mind immediately went to other books I have read with secondary or sometimes primary settings in massive multiplayer online games. Here are some of the things I was cognizant of: strong attention to both primary and secondary world, the conflict between the wor ...more
Mar 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
This took a while to get off the ground, but when it did, it was good.

The plot centers around Mal, a girl struggling to make ends meet in a post-United States dystopia controlled by two warring mega-corporations. She makes part of her living by gaming in a super-advanced virtual reality MMORPG world.

From this, the Ready Player One comparisons are inevitable. This is nowhere near as annoying as RP1, though. It also doesn't have the other side of the coin: that offbeat, entertaining RP1 energy. Th
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Listen y’all, I love a good story where there’s a VR game that decimates the line between escapism and survival, and Nicole Kornher-Stace gives the reader exactly that at the beginning of Firebreak. Mallory (Mal for short) is a streamer in a popular war VR game and earns most of her meager pay—both for in game items and for real life water rations and food—through one of her multitude of gigs, one of which is streaming with her close friend, Jessa. After capturing footage of a beloved NPC modele ...more
Apr 12, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
By golly, can this woman write a good yarn or not? The style is reminiscent of "Archivist Wasp" and "Latchkey" but this is a completely different story. And set in a world I hope to encounter again.

Mallory is close to finishing her one thousandth kill for the day, a goal she's been trying to achieve for months, when the unthinkable happens. She spots a lone beacon. There's a SpecOps operative out there and nobody knows it but her. The path to instant fame! But she still has six kills to go and f
Cait Payne
Apr 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
The year is 2134 and the United States is being controlled by two forever-at-war corporations. In the portion of New Liberty City governed by Stellaxis, water is being rationed and people are being arrested as terrorists for collecting rainwater. The one escape for its customer-citizens is the virtual reality game, BestLife. While there are various modules within the game, the war module is by far the most popular (and lucrative), especially since it allows players to interact with the elusive S ...more
Apr 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, sci-fi
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of this book!

Firebreak is a near-future sci-fi novel in which the US has been divided up between two major corporations, Greenleaf and Stellaxis. The two corporations periodically fight over territory, and they have complete control over their citizens and the resources in their districts. Water is particularly tightly controlled, and citizens compete in a virtual war game to help themselves gain more access to
Kerry Beth
Apr 02, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

I won an advanced reader copy of this novel in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you!

A dystopian future novel, where water and resources are rationed, the world is operated by competing corporations, and gaming and the media reigns supreme...

Vaguely reminiscent of Ready Player One in that the world is torn between virtual and real, Mal, the main character is not a people person, but somehow seems to end up at the wrong place at the wrong time, becoming a lynchpin to a revolution, conspiracy
Adriana Van
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine yourself in the shoes of an uncomfortably near-future David, facing down a nation-sized corporate Goliath with one pebble in your slingshot. Imagine hurling it despite the odds, because you have it and someone has to try. Imagine that your pebble strikes true, but only annoys Goliath into wanting to stomp you and your whole neighbourhood flat.

Mallory knows she isn't cut out to be a hero, but when that pebble lands in her hands, she throws it anyway because she cares enough to try.

If th
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley and Galley Books for an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars

In the year 2134 two major corporations, Stellaxis and Greenleaf, each control half of the remaining 45 states of the USA that haven't been lost to rising waters.

Mallory is a young woman who was orphaned as a child due to the fighting between the two companies. Mal lives in a hotel room with eight other orphans and has multiple menial jobs. Her main job streaming on Stellaxis' war game w
Karen M
Mar 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Considering what’s been happening in the USA the last few months, specifically power outages in Texas and water shortages in Texas and Mississippi and the lead in the water in Detroit, MI and Newark, NJ, well this is one totally believable book about what life could be like in the future.

We already have large corporations trying to eat each other up and trying to work their way around the anti-trust laws so is it so hard to imagine that this could be our future?

The author has created a completel
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Nicole Kornher-Stace lives in New Paltz, NY, with her family. Her books include ARCHIVIST WASP (Small Beer Press/Big Mouth House, 2015) and LATCHKEY (Mythic Delirium, 2018), which are about a far-future postapocalyptic ghosthunter, the ghost of a near-future supersoldier, and their adventures in the underworld.

She has two more books due out in 2021: FIREBREAK, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster/Ga

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