Monday, April 13, 2015

The Leveller by Julia Durango

Genre:  YA Science Fiction
The Leveller Series, Book 1
Expected publication date:  June 23, 2015

Description (taken from Julia Durango's website):
Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, thanks to Julia Durango’s cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance adds some heart to Nixy’s vivid, multidimensional journey through Wyn’s tricked-out virtual city, and constant twists keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.

Nixy works as a bounty hunter and extracts kids from virtual reality at their parents' request.  Having two parents who work for the organization that created the reality gaming world, aka the MEEP, has its perks.  She knows a lot of hacks and also gets to see new modifications before they mainstream.  And that makes her the perfect bounty hunter.  But when the CEO of MEEP is calling her to get his son out of the game, will she be able to deliver?

While trying to locate Wyn, the son who has supposedly left the real-world for a death-by-virtual-reality, Nixy finds herself in a maze of tests.  These tests are the kind you'd expect to see when playing a game on a computer or gaming console, but your mind is in that reality.  It kind of makes it even freakier.  But after completing the tests, Nixy ends up in Wyn's created reality.  It's kind of like an oasis.  An oasis that Wyn is trying to get out of.  As Nixy and Wyn try to figure out what's going on, they find there's more to the MEEP than they realized.

This was such a quick novel that flowed right from start to end.  It's a great opener to a new series.  While I'm not a big gamer, I found myself stuck in Nixy's world watching her face the various challenges.  I was kind of holding my breath while reading.  And once Nixy met Wyn, I kind of got to see what the MEEP could really do for you.  The only thing that had me scratching my head is the main plot was such a tease.  It gave me enough to understand the story but not enough to keep me content.  All I can say is the story-telling is wonderful, but I want more...

This is a stunning opening to a new virtual-reality story that's going to grab readers' attention.  I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next one.

Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours for providing me a review copy.

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