author : a.l. davroe
pages : [paperback] 304
In the domed city of Evanescence, appearance is everything. A Natural Born amongst genetically-altered Aristocrats, all Ella ever wanted was to be like everyone else. Augmented, sparkling, and perfect. Then…the crash. Devastated by her father’s death and struggling with her new physical limitations, Ella is terrified to learn she is not just alone, but little more than a prisoner.
Her only escape is to lose herself in Nexis, the hugely popular virtual reality game her father created. In Nexis she meets Guster, a senior player who guides Ella through the strange and compelling new world she now inhabits. He offers Ella guidance, friendship…and something more. Something that allows her to forget about the “real” world, and makes her feel whole again.
But Nexis isn’t quite the game everyone thinks it is.
And it’s been waiting for Ella.
The good: It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a book that circles around video games/virtual reality that I’ve actually been interested in. I’m not sure if Nexis is a game I’d play myself but, then again, it adapts to every player’s needs so they play whatever is most interesting to them.
Guster and Ella were pretty compelling characters, when they were thinking logically. I think that their relationship in Nexis was cute, and I wished that less of it had been skimmed over, though I realize not all of it could be written out. Nexis actually covers a lot of ground, because the events taken place over more than a year’s time.
The bad: A lot of it was predictable. As soon as one guy stepped onto the scene, I knew that he was going to be a love interest. I’m not sure if everyone would pick up on this, but I called it from the start.
I also found it highly unrealistic that Ella was the only Natural in the entire city. Literally the only one left. And, with what happens in this novel, I feel like maybe her life wouldn’t have gone so smoothly up to this point, what with the tensions that are rising in the city. She goes on and on about how utterly ugly she is because she hasn’t had surgeries to modify and alter her body, even though, obviously, it is building up to the big, expected reveal . . . That she’s the only one who is truly gorgeous, all of the men are still after her, Ella’s denial of her beauty makes her more beautiful, etc. This trope is everywhere nowadays and I need some characters who either aren’t beautiful and own it or are gorgeous and own it.
The ending also felt unrealistic. Ella is so unbelievably smart and I find it hard to think that she could be manipulated so easily. Sure, she needs to make some difficult choices. In the end, though, she should be able to piece together what’s happening as quickly as I was able to. Which means about two dozen pages before she realizes what’s going on.
I honestly don’t know where the second book will end up going; the story has taken itself out of virtual reality by now and so much of what I liked about this book was settled in that world that probably won’t exist anymore. I don’t think that I’m going to pick up book two, and I won’t be recommending Nexis. The writing was not very good and, though there were some strong points to the book, it was lacking substance in the end.