Ambrose is the son of Martin Truax, wealthy and mysterious inventor of the social network Unison. Everyone who’s anyone has a login, and Ambrose’s entire life is devoted to running the company for even bigger profit. Mistletoe has no idea whose daughter she is — she lives with junk dealer Jiri in the impoverished subcanopy city of Little Saigon, under the high-rise “atmoscrapers” of Ambrose’s world. When a terrorist plants doubt in Ambrose’s mind about the nature of Unison, he ends up in Mistletoe’s world, running for his life. Can they discover the truth about Unison — and themselves — before it’s too late?
I found this a tricky book to get a handle on, and I mean that in the best possible way. From the cover and the beginning, I expected fairly straightforward middle grade cyberpunk. And to some extent, that’s what it is: action-packed shoot-outs, a hovercraft scooter held together with duct tape, elderly underworld engineers with a genetically engineered pet, spy hijinks in Unison (which the book calls a “social network,” but it’s really more of a fully immersive virtual reality).
But by the end, things had gotten downright trippy. It ended up reminding me most of an episode of Fringe, or of William Sleator’s The Last Universe. (It felt Sleator-esque overall, which is definitely a compliment.) The close friendship/budding romance between the leads felt a bit shoehorned in, but it’s minor, and otherwise this was a fun mind-bending bit of sci-fi. I can see it appealing to the kids who loved Uglies more for the action and the world creation than for the fantasy-fulfillment of being Pretty.
Also reviewed by: Well… not so many reviews yet, since this comes out in five months. (Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.) So I’ll just link to Andy Marino’s website.
ARC generously provided by the editor, the lovely and talented Noa Wheeler.