A dash of Ready, player one. A splash of Divergent and a small sprinkling of the Matrix this book is a beautiful blend of all my favourite things in VR literature.
The story is well written with a rich world that you are fully immersed in right from the start. I do wish our hero took longer to get used to VR but that probably would have made the book boring but it didn't seem realistic to get over a phobia so easily. Especially without panic attacks and throwing up. Running out of a classroom because of embarrassment just felt a little too weak for what a phobia really is.
This is a great YA book.
I did think the blase nature of a gunman on campus made me very aware this is American-centric. Wakey, wakey America. It isn't normal to be familiar with a gunman on campus. The rest of the world (unless you live in a war torn area) think you guys are crazy not to do something about that stuff. Especially when the world the author has created has them getting rid of dangerous drugs and alcohol why haven't they gotten rid of guns. Very jarring. Especially when the next chapter the author reveals a plot hole with guns being illegal.
I also don't believe some of her motivation. Like saving her dad. There hasn't been any connection between them whatsoever. I understand the brother even if he is a bit of loser. I'd understand her going to the end of the world for her mum but instead of having mixed emotions about a dad that is basically a VR drunk her emotions are clear cut and it annoys me. I so wanted to like this book. Her feelings for Garret and even his for her I totally understood and felt. It just felt like some of the relationships were forced to drive the plot forward.
Ari doesn't take this nearly as serious as she should. Shucks, none of them take it nearly as serious as they should. They often talk about people dying, going missing or being sucked into some super secret dungeon but instead they worry about feelings and stuff instead of plain survival. Another plot hole popped up. Why wouldn't Reed be instantly expelled for what he did? He's on a scholarship so of course he really didn't have the choice to stay at school. Grrr. Hate plot holes. They wreck suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately, because the characters don't take the risks seriously neither did I and that meant the tension just lost its fizz.
The story telling is amazing and if you are from the US you will probably love this story but this feels like the future from the eyes of someone from America and it is obvious. The writing is great. The story line well done except for the two small plot holes. The cover is amazing. The concept was fantastic. I just didn't escape into her world and that is why I'm giving four stars instead of five. Yes, I think you might be surprised by the four stars but I'd never give a bad star rating just because I didn't like the characters and that is what it boiled down to. The fact that I finished the book in one day meant it was engaging and flowed.