**While I don’t think my review gives away much more than is in the plot summary, I have had some complaints over on Goodreads that it should be under spoiler tags. To avoid ruining anybody’s life, I’m putting this under a read more.**
** spoiler alert **
Oh boy. Here we go. I always hate writing negative reviews, especially of books that don’t have a lot of reviews to begin with. It’s a lot of pressure when your review could considerably lower the book’s average rating! But I just can’t pretend that I loved this book.
But, as always, please remember that doesn’t mean that you won’t love it.
This was an impulse pick from Netgalley. I was trying to find something to read, and while I usually steer clear of the Read Now section, I jumped in and picked this book. It’s a pretty intriguing description:
It’s the year 2055 and an anarchist organization has taken control with the aim to create a world-class society. Half of humankind is unknowingly living in an alternate reality called Dormance… and there are no plans to wake them up.
Sixteen-year-old introvert Emery Parker is one such dormant. An academic scholar who avoids ruffling feathers at all costs, Emery finds herself being transferred to a boarding school on the outskirts of Arizona. Little does she know, a family secret has the power to change the course of the future. When she’s approached with an opportunity to free the dormants, she sees no other choice but to accept, even though failure could mean having her memory wiped clean.
But when tech-savvy Torin Porter reaches out to her from the other side, Emery begins to question everything she was told about Dormance. If her family’s secret falls into the wrong hands, the world as she knows it will be faced with irreversible consequences. Now Emery must play both sides to uncover the truth about her family’s past or risk leaving mankind to live in an unconscious reality.
Futuristic world! Alternate reality! Anarchist organizations! Intelligent, introverted MC! Boarding school! Hacker boys! These are all things I like in my books. But, ugh. The execution could have really used some work, starting with the whole basis of the plot in general. Half the world lives in Dormance, a state where their bodies are held in suspension as they live out some sort of virtual reality. Sure, makes sense for the first generation. How do you explain their virtual babies? Do babies just appear in suspension when born in Dormance? Or do people just not get pregnant, and think nothing of it? But also, where do they keep all these bodies? We’re told where a whopping total of twelve bodies are kept. There are supposedly millions of people in Dormance. I don’t get it.
But anyway, setting that aside, let’s talk about Emery’s recruitment and training for The Alpha Drive. She receives a phone call from a man who doesn’t identify himself, asking her to come alone to a location she’s unfamiliar with. She thinks, Hey, why not and leaves without telling her roommate what she’s doing or where she’s going. I thought Emery was supposed to be smart? Of course, everything works out in the end, except for the fact that she has a microchip implanted and has to sign a confidentiality agreement with unfortunate repercussions, including memory wipes in the event of anybody figuring out her identity, or if she figures out another Alpha Drive participant’s identity. We can set that aside, too, because I guess if I were running a top secret scary recruitment program, I might be just as serious about confidentiality. (Probably not, but carrying on…) Emery is trained in the elements. In aquam, she has to dive and swim and deal with seeing dead family members. In ignis, she basically has to set herself on fire. In terrae, she runs through the wilderness as manticores chase her. Somehow, this is meant to prepare her for battle.
Enter Torin Porter, a lovable hacker working for The Alpha Drive’s mortal enemy, Seventh Sanctum. Emery has been led to believe that The Alpha Drive are the good guys, and 7S wants to destroy the world, but Torin tells her it’s actually the opposite. And… she just believes him. He’s right, of course, but come on, Emery. Again, I thought you were supposed to be smart?
At this point, the book derails into a series of romantic conflicts, but I don’t know why I expected anything different from young adult sci-fi. Emery has arguments with her clingy boyfriend from home, who somehow never has trouble getting into her supposedly secure campus. Emery sneaks off and spends the night with a boy she meets at a party. She’s not sure what that means. She and her roommate develop a crush on the same boy, and spend the rest of the book bickering about it. Neither of them are familiar with girl code of not hooking up with/dating a boy your friend likes, I guess. Even Torin develops a crush on Emery. Half the world lives in an alternate reality, but the most important thing at this moment is whether or not Emery made out with Mason and whether or not that upset Rhea.
The last 20% of the book is a mess. As I was reading it, I found myself asking (out loud) what just happened. It’s convenient. (Come on, Emery, even I could have guessed the password for The Alpha Drive’s safe.) The resolution, if you can call it that, doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t at all make me want to read the rest of the trilogy.
I know I have a lot of complaints, but this book sure kept me entertained. Despite everything, I still wanted to know what would happen next. I think it started off better than it finished, and with a lot of polishing, it could be a great story.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!
Final rating: ★★☆☆☆
For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #3: a young adult bestseller.