Another start to another week. And with it more book reviews because I am pleased with myself for finishing three books this weekend and putting a good dent in another. One of those books I was pleased to read was an ARC I received from NetGalley and Blue Moon Publishers which I had featured in my Waiting on Wednesday post a couple weeks ago, Nirvana by J.R. Stewart. Well the wait is over for me, for you to tomorrow when it comes out.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Punk rocker, animal activist, and Nirvana operator Kenders is our main character in the dystopian world where the world has pretty much died and the virtual reality is how you deal cope. Her fiancé, Andrew, head designer and programmer at Hexagon is the world to her, her soulmate, her everything. One day after a discovery at work that has him on edge Kenders is told he was killed in an accident but given no details on his work. Heartbroken and confused she is prescribed time in Nirvana as time to heal. Anything is possible in Nirvana, even visits from Andrew. She knows it’s fake, virtual reality, still there is something about it that seems real. Andrew even asks for her help, all cloak and dagger like. She already didn’t trust Hexagon but now with Andrew asking for her help in Nirvana to find his files she starts to believe he might still be alive. Working to stay safe and uncover the files while your every move is monitored and hard enough figuring out who is friend and foe. Factor in that you’re not 100% sure if any of this is real or your virtual self, trying to process the grief of losing the one you love.
I enjoyed the story and the concept. I liked Kenders and what she stood for fighting for the right reasons. I also enjoyed the struggle in her. She can see the truth in the virtual reality but as much as she wants it to be real she knows she could be losing her mind and self to virtual reality. Watching that struggle and how it mingled with her actions was interesting. I read this pretty quickly, just wanting to know what's going to happen next. I liked the different characters and how you are never sure if they are friend or foe no matter how they act and also how everyone has a double way of talking, saying and doing one thing for the constant surveillance but having a double meaning to them. I would be in trouble in this world I would have forgotten everything!
The love Kenders and Andrew shared is sweet. At first in the present we don't see much and he's withdrawn due to work but reliving some of their greatest hits in Nirvana and seeing how they came to be who they are just made my heart ache for her. Andrew is seriously one who understands beautiful moments and gestures! Also as someone who is simply happy if my family and friends remember my birthday at all, Andrew is the Birthday Wizard!
I did have a couple problems of things I wished were explained more but overall while they left me with questions I still enjoyed the book and look forward to the next one. The first is that they mention the red door in the prologue and again throughout the story as something bad, something that Andrew fights against but exactly what it is we don't find out. Which makes the prologue seem a bit weird for me and had me thinking something else through the whole book but I was way off. The other is just the ages, as Paloma is old enough to be Kenders mom but she dated Andrew for five years before Kenders that ended five years ago from the present and I just assumed Andrew and Kenders were close to the same age even though she got into University before him but factoring all that together I wasn't sure if Andrew was older than I imagined or if he just dated a older woman? Again didn't detract from the characteristics of the story for me, just things that lingered and I wish I had more explanation on.
Overall I think some things could be improved on but as a debut novel I am pleased and I look forward to finding out more. There has to be more with that ending right! I look forward to the next installment. I'd love to hear your thoughts below. What do you think of virtual reality? Would you spend your time in it? Would it make it easier to move on or make it more difficult? I've gone back and forth while reading the book myself. Let's discuss.
Until next time…