Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Leveller by Julia Durango

Series: The Leveller (bk. 1)

Genera(s): Sci-fi Thriller

Subjects: virtual reality, games, action, adventure

Setting: Illinois, Florida and then a virtual Havana, Cuba and the Meep.

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Nixy Bauer

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 245 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover  

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “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.”

My Review:  I’ve been anticipating the Leveller ever since I saw the cover reveled on EpicReads. Now I finally read it and was pleased to find that it was full of awesome. It was even better than I expected. My only complaint is that it was too short. But supposedly this is a series, though thing felt pretty wrapped up at the end. I can’t imagine what a sequel might entail and how anything could possibly follow up this amazing story.

There’s this virtual reality game world called the MEEP and it only launched a year earlier on Black Friday. Nixy’s parent both work for the MEEP. Her dad’s a developmental artist and her mom write scripts for the virtual people called Meeple. Nixy is a self-made leveller. She get paid by parent to retrieve their children ages 13-17 from the MEEP. They’re usually spending time there to avoid homework, so parents pay her a hundred bucks each time she retrieves them. Her motto is: Nixy Bauer, home in an hour.

The big boss of the Meep contact her parent requesting Nixy to retrieve his son from the MEEP. He’s supposedly left behind a suicide note and doesn’t want to leave. He’s been in the MEEP for days. There’s a maze of horrors that Nixy must conquer to get to him, such as sharks, snakes and scorpions. The MEEP is usually a place where people go to have fun or be some one they’re not. It’s usually not so terrifying.

The characters are pretty great. Nixy is tough, funny and quirky. Reminds me of Tella from Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott, or Maximum Ride. Nixy is from Illinois (like me, and the author lives in Ottawa, IL). She flies to Florida to help Diego Salvador’s son Wyn. There’s also a virtual Havana, Cuba in here. It’s Cube 60 years ago, but it’s such a unique setting. Wyn is actually a pretty great guy and sees the beauty in the world around him and tries to recreate it. Chang and Moose are Nixy’s friends and are typical gamer guys.

It’s an exciting adventure with a lot of action and different environments. I really enjoyed all the virtual reality stuff. The other books about virtual reality that I’ve read are the Mortality Doctrine series by James Dashner and the Elusion series by Claudia Gabel Cheryl Klam, and Insignia by S.J. Kincaid. This also reminded me of Rush by Eve Silver (The Game Trilogy). I overall enjoyed this book and wonder what will happen next.

Cover Art Review: The buildings are interesting, the girl is okay. Wish there was more to the cover than being just glossy.

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