Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: Nirvana by J.R. Stewart

When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized - even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.

Rating: 2 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Note: This review is based upon the advance reader copy from NetGalley. I have heard that it differs from the book that went to print, so please keep that in mind when reading this.

The beginning of the book was a bit dry. It sounded like a pamphlet regarding virtual reality technology and it's impact or lack there of on animal testing. It didn't feel like a novel at all, which felt really strange.

When Kenders was explaining how the world had come to be in the state that it's in, what with the environment taking a nose dive, it didn't sound authentic. While I was reading it, I thought that it was a chapter writing about superstitions and environmental conspiracy theories that didn't have a good, if any, foundation in science.

There was an oddity about the ages that sort of bothered me. Apparently in this future world the growing up process is sped up. Kenders is 17, but she's engaged, has a "fabulous" job, is/was a member of a punk band, and an animal rights activist. The way she talked, though, did not match up with her age, even taking into account the advancement of maturity. She sounds like she's in her later 20's, early 30's. Maybe it has to do with reduced life expectancy, but it rubbed me the wrong way while I was reading the story in her voice.

She does have some romantic notions about the physical world that I found admirable and it reminds me of the argument that sometimes goes on today regarding physical book versus eBooks. The physical book, the tangible thing that you can hold and relate to on a personal level, is something that to Kenders, and to a lot of people in our world today, means more than digital immortality.

Different points of view don't bother me, but the way it was done in this book was weird. Kenders's chapters are told in first person, but then it switches to Andrew's chapters which are not. His chapters don't flow very well. The text goes from being "told" by Andrew from a third person p.o.v. to being told "about" Andrew in the third person. The flow is all wrong and doesn't improve a lacking story line.

The premise is a very interesting concept. Anything that deals with technology and the possibility of complete and total dependence on it (even more so than today) piques my interest. The execution in this book, however, was not pleasing. The best way to explain it is that it sounds and feels like a text book about the subject that was altered a little bit to make it into a novel.

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