Seventeen year-old punk rock star Larissa Kenders has a cause to fight for and a soul mate who understands her better than anyone. But when her lover, Andrew, a brilliant programmer for a powerful company, disappears, Kenders has to take all she’s learned in her quest to protect animal rights to a whole new kind of fight: one to find and save the man she loves. With corporate thugs closing in around her, she must decode clues Andrew left behind about why he may have been murdered. She’ll need help, but choosing the wrong ally could cost her life.
My number one issue with this novel is that I really don’t think it qualifies as YA. Though the narrator is seventeen, all of the issues she deals with are adult issues. There’s no sense of coming-of-age, or sort of graduating into the adult sphere. She begins the novel living independently with her adult boyfriend and then investigating his disappearance on her own.
I really liked that Stewart brought music into the story and used punk music in particular in the way he did. I loved that Kenders had a cause important to her and that the music was a big part of her platform for that cause, yet it lent itself to other parts of the story pretty seamlessly.
I loved her relationship with Andrew. They seemed to really get each other and have a relationship worth fighting for. I loved the scenes where Kenders goes into the virtual world and meets Andrew and it’s laced with the snippets of reality. I LOVED the layering of virtual and real overlapping so tightly that it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended. The theme is explored in discussions between characters a little bit as well – whether events experienced in the virtual world are at all real. Such a great thread. It felt very Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to me, and I totally enjoyed that.
I felt like there was a really abrupt jump in the part where Andrew disappears. I don’t want to give too much away, but one chapter ends with Kenders saying she’s going to go find him and the next begins with a huge event that left me feeling like I missed a few pages. Over all it wasn’t a big deal. There were a couple of times where the boys are kind of like, hey we’re smart, so you (Kenders) sit tight and let us do the hard thinking. It made sense in terms of the plot, but sort of sidelined her as the protagonist and put her more in the damsel-in-distress position. I liked the story better in the scenes in which Kenders was playing a more active role in the story.
Overall I think this is a cool sci-fi story. It definitely reminded me of some of the recent VR movies that I wanted to like, such as Surrogate with Bruce Willis (I liked this better, actually.) I think it will have more appeal outside the YA audience. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I feel like it’s more of an adult sci-fi novel with a young narrator.
Extreme profanity used infrequently.
Descriptions of kissing and a lead-in to sex, but no description of the actual exchange.
Brief descriptions of torture tactics used to pressure a man to give up information. A man is killed in an explosion that leaves his body badly burned.