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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  405 ratings  ·  148 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
Published 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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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  405 ratings  ·  148 reviews

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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
Lady Amanda
May 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
You need to read this book
It's the anti-capitalist story that Ready Player One wishes it was.
Read my full review HERE. ❤ Check below for a preview!

Action packed, anti-capitalist, compelling, well written, easy to follow, emotional, and tense.

Oh man, where do I begin? I really loved this book. When I opened it, I thought “man this is kind of long, I didn’t realize!” And then literally this book doesn’t slow down at any point. It is packed with amazing content. This is going to be a hard rev
May 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-read
Very nice, very nice.

While this was written as a standalone book, I can't help but see it as the precursor world laid out in Kornher-Stace's amazing book, Archivist Wasp. It just feels like Firebreak is the before-time to that.

There is a lot to unpack in the story, which includes elements of corporate hegemony, economic freedom, the role of social media, and the realer than real online world. I loved, loved, loved, the relationships here. Friendship, trust, and platonic love are all part of the
Jun 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Corporations rule the world and the citizens are kept under their control in a distopian future full of water rationing and bombings. But everyone seems to have access to all the video games and social media they want. Mallory and her friend Jessa discover that the supersoldier operatives in a war game weren’t created in a lab as the players have been told, instead they are actually the adult versions of orphans stolen as children. Mallory believes that by exposing this lie she can bring down th ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
2.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Opening on a not-too-distant future, Firebreak follows Mallory, AKA Nycorix when she’s online, a gamer who has recently turned to streaming in the hopes of making some extra money to afford the basic necessities of life. Following the corporate war, distribution of all resources has come under the control of the mega-companies, including access to technology, food, and even water, which is particularly scarce. Mal lives
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
This fucking book!! I AM SUFFERING AFTER THE ENDING 😩😩

Somewhere in the far future, two mega corporations rule over the supercity New Liberty (Picture: Capitalism run rampant). Mallory doesn't want for much: enough water to keep her kidneys from failing, more time/money to dedicate to the virtual game BestLife, not having to work multiple jobs alongside her 8 other roommates so they can afford their room.

Mal loves being able to play BestLife and catching glimpses of the celebrity SecOps NPCs whi
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
The Captain
May 13, 2021 marked it as to-read
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

I loved the book archivist wasp by the author and was excited to read her newest.  While on the balance, I have to say that I liked it, I generally loved the first half of the story better than the second half.

I really did love the ideas of corporations at war and how water rights played an issue in this book.  I loved how the corporations used the war in VR game
Okay, this is hands down one of my top reads this 2021!

CW: violence, kidnapping, torture, capitalism, police brutality

Wow wow wow! I was excited to dive into this book, primarily because of two reasons: 1) the synopsis sounds so good! and 2) there is aro/ace rep. I didn't know what else to expect here in Firebreak. But now that I've finished it, I am just so in awe of it.

The world-building is spot on and immersive, the writing style is so good, the characters (especially Mal) are compelling, th
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
Corporate greed and malfeasance in a future world is an easy sell, mainly because both have been around as long as a group/organization/company decided to make a quick buck off the backs of everyone else, while mistreating their workers. (*cough, cough* Amazon!) I mean, Stellaxis and Greenleaf, which are the mega corps in this story.
Mal and Jessa, two twenty-somethings, live in a hotel along with many others, paying for tiny amounts of water, and buying food from company stores, and being conne
Lisa Konet
I really love dystopian thriller books set in the future. This book also has a bit of a sci-fi element too. This was set in 2134 where there are only 45 US states remaining because they were lost to rising water levels. I would not say this is a main character that is central to the story, but Mal seems to be the reluctant hero. There are two large global companies that control everything: food, water, electricity, utilities, etc. A few people that are computer hackers are trying to fight back a ...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
Jun 04, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Originally gave it 3 stars, but when a day later I was still saying "Oh yeah, and that part didn't make any sense either..." it got downgraded. The writing was good, characters were fine, but the world and the overall plot didn't work for me. Dystopian requires some suspension of disbelief, but, for example, not drinking rainwater when you are literally dying of thirst because the company says it has diseases? Nope. Soda (which is mostly water) is cheap - do they make it with a water substitute ...more
Amber Slagle
May 12, 2021 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

I love dystopian stories and the premise of this book is great, but I struggled with this book.

Part of this book is about Mal gaming. I appreciate games, but I guess I don't want to watch or read about people gaming. I also didn't fully understand what was going on with the NPC.

The dialog was awkward. This book felt like a YA book that says the "F" word a lot. I have no problem with swearing, but it was overkill.

Thanks Netgalley and publisher for the digital copy in exchange for my h
May 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was so pumped when I was granted a copy from Netgalley. TYSM! I started it right away and burned through it.

- Spoiler free review -

It was written in a way that kept me turning pages. I had to know what was causing these people to be living in this type of dystopian world. For me, I would call it a mystery. Not a 'whodunit mystery', but a 'why is this happening mystery' that had me dying to figure it out.

There is a Virtual Reality world but it isn't the kind where you enter the avatar of an O
Apr 12, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
May 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
5/7/2021 3.5 stars rounded up. Full review tk at

5/7/2021 (several hours later)

This book reads like a corporate war manga as told from the perspective of the plucky ace/aro civilian sidekick who's the bridge between the corporate super soldiers/heroes and the public kept in the dark about what the evil megacorps are doing, both to the super soldiers (called SpecOps here and given only numbers as identifiers) and to the general populace. Mal is your typical 22nd century
May 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Corporate war is decimating the world around them. Water is rationed. Electricity is rationed. Thousands of people are living in shelters transformed out of old hotels and schools.

In a society like this, set in the future, it is only natural that society would take their lives online and utilize the advanced technologies of the times. However, there is so much more to this book than a Ready Player One-esce virtual reality game. I personally didn’t see much similarity at all between the books. Fi
Gunit Kaur Kalada
Firebreak exposes you to a dystopian world which is dominated by 2 major corporation, who completely and utterly own everything you posses, including yourself. There is no social freedom, the world is less real & more real, you have no home, no water, and all this while the 2 corporations are constantly at war. Even in this dreadful situation, we see friendships and platonic love budding at so many places.

I discovered this book only a few days back and I loved the idea behind the plot so much th
D.K. Hundt
Jun 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
‘[H]eroes, . . . of nothing they were expected to be . . . . The beginning, I hope, of the changes to come. A spark that starts a fire of our own.’

‘It’s a nice thought anyway.’


‘Two corporations have replaced the US, splitting the country’s remaining forty-five states (five have been submerged under the ocean) between them: Stellaxis Innovations and Greenleaf. . . . . New Liberty City is the only amalgamated city split between the two megacorps, and thus at a perpetual state of civil war a
Madeline Mantis Malfoy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
May 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
"Firebreak" has a very interesting premise: A hundred years from now, the government has sold off the USA to corporations- the monopoly of water and food production has led to two corporations that ultimately control the US. These two corporations are always at war, causing the people to suffer from massive food and water shortages.

Main characters Mal and Jessa work multiple jobs in order to make enough money to pay for water. They also work together to stream content in a game in order to gain
Apr 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Excellent ideas, not as excellent execution.

In the 2120s, the United States has been divided and sold off to corporations when the government could no longer afford to run it. Through a series of buyouts, what’s left of the country after climate disaster is now divided between two corporations who control all the water and food production. Customer-citizens live in the buildings left standing after the war between the two corporations and spend their meager earnings on purchasing water, food, an
Jun 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Wow, this was brilliant! If Snow Crash and Ready Player One had a baby that grew up to be an anti-capitalist activist. Implicit aro/ace (the MC, per the author) and non-binary rep (characters with they/them pronouns).

A dystopian future where water costs $1 per ounce and trying to procure your own water via rain is considered an act of terrorism. Mal, the MC, and her pals team up to take a stand against the tyrannical corps that run the US. Featuring: a sprawling MMORPG, giant "citykiller" mechs
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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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