Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Unplugged by Donna Freitas (Young Adult, Science Fiction)

Series: The Wired # 1
Format: E-Galley, 448 pages
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

The first book in a provocative new series from acclaimed author Donna Freitas—Feed for a new generation.
Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.
Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.
But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.
In the tradition of M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, Unplugged kicks off a thrilling and timely sci-fi series for teens from an award-winning writer.

Unplugged is the first installment in author Donna Freitas The Wired series. 16-year old Skye Cruz lives in a virtual reality world known as App World, where everyone is disconnected from their actual bodies. App World is a place where you can purchase all sorts of adventures, food, games, clothes, and change your appearance whenever you want. Skye has been "living" in this world for the past 10 years with her best friend Inara Sachs and her parents. Skye's family isn't like Inara's. 

Her mother was willing to send Skye away to App World in exchange for being Keepers to the wealthy who prefer App World to the Real world. Keepers are those who take care of the bodies left behind and ensure they are exercised and fed so that their bodies don't wither away and die. But, she has always looked forward to turning Seventeen when she would see her mother and sister again during her mandated Service. Service is a disconnect from the VR world where everyone under Eighteen is given an opportunity to see what the real world feels like.

When the border between App world and the Real World is suddenly closed, and unplugging and plugging in become prohibited, Skye makes a deal with the devil to find an escape from App World so that she can see her family again. What she finds is nothing as she expected. Her journey to find her mother and sister isn't as easy as one would imagine. Especially after she wakes and finds herself on the run almost immediately and being chased by strangers. 

There are hurdles put in place, a handful of allies, and Skye herself is a desired peace of a looming money making scheme now that the Rich have decided to unplug and remain forever in App World. From the moment Skye awakes, to the moment the story ends, was the most intriguing and fun in the entire book. Don't get me wrong. I liked the imagination behind App World. I liked that the author didn't cover over the ugly to focus on the bright spots. Even in App World, there are those who are left behind.

I liked Skye for lots of reasons, but the main one's is that she never tries to be above her station. She is a Single in an environment that caters to the rich and famous. She doesn't live a shallow existence where she expects others to bow down and kiss her washed feet. She wants to go home. She wants to see her family again. But, when she gets there, everything that she hoped for, and everything that she imagined, is so much more dangerous for her and other Singles.

This story really is broken into several parts. The first part is obviously Skye's time in App World, and feeling a curiosity at why certain powerful people are treating her differently. The second part is Skye meeting those like Rain and Adam in the real world and discovering that those who were left out of App World with the new directive, are fighting for more than their survival. Skye's meeting with her sister and especially with her mother, leads directly into the second book.

The second installment in this series is called The Body Market, and is scheduled to be released March of 2017. I shall be waiting to see if Freitas can continue her magical world building.

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