Author: J.R. Stewart
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers
Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery & Thriller, YA
Source: Free ebook from publisher in exchange for honest review
Earlier this year, I received a copy of Nirvana for review from NetGalley and, truth be told, that book left a lot to be desired. Since then, following feedback from many reviewers, the publishers have helped the author develop his story’s potential into something brilliant. While still keeping the core themes, characters and ideas from the original, this version of Nirvana is a very different book altogether and is certainly something to be proud of.
This book is the first in a series which sees a virtual reality corporation, Hexagon, in power following the Extinction, an event which saw the creation of a dystopian world and the demise of the bees. It follows Kenders, an ex-punk musician who finds herself alone following her fiancé’s disappearance and embroiled in a conspiracy that impacts the entire world.
The use of virtual reality as a force to control others is a fascinating part of the book and I really enjoyed seeing it used effectively alongside the plot and to help develop the characters. As it developed, I found myself getting more and more engrossed in the story. There were a couple scenes which, different from the original, I did not see coming and which had an impact on the character, the novel and the reader.
Kenders was a lot more likeable and relatable in this version of the book. Intelligent, stubborn and determined, she uses all her skills to get to the bottom of the mystery she finds herself mixed up in. Her relationships with the other characters are complex and subtle, allowing for the story to progress in a way which felt natural.
Each of the other characters were distinct and for a few it was difficult to determine on whose side they lay. The villains of the book were characters that were instantly dislikeable while the secondary characters helped to move the plot forward while leaving room for their development in later books.
As I said in my previous review, the world that this book was set in is fascinating. It is a world where crops have failed to grow and the land has become so barren that people have to live in colonies owned by Hexagon. Virtual Reality has become a major commodity and is used to control the population and remove anyone who has rebellious thoughts.
This only helped increase the suspense as there were times where you were not sure what was real and what was virtual reality. It also made the threat even more thrilling as cameras monitor almost everything, making Kenders’ plight nearly impossible. There were a couple of instances where this did not quite work, for instance a couple of scenes in the Bubble, but on the whole the setting was a delight.
This second version is a massive step up from the previous book and really demonstrates the power of readers in helping to bring out a book’s full potential. The characters were interesting and involved, the plot was well paced and kept you engaged in the story and the concept was one that really made you think.