Well, this is an absolute corker of a story, one that feels slightly surreal as you read and relate to particular events and situations. There is a true link to what we have endured during the initial Covid 19 lockdowns and fear from society. This story takes it further, in that children spent the first 14 years of their life at home, “live-learning”. Then they pack their virtual reality gear, high tech luggage and head to boarding school. For some this is their exciting first interaction with other children, for others it is scary and worrying.
Jess is remarkably well suited to this, she has huge talents that are there to be discovered but it all comes down to who you can trust. Having lived completely separate from others, trust is something new to be learned.
As we follow Jess’s first experience with school and making new friends, we also unearth the beginnings of a mystery involving her Dad, and another involving the cost of her sister Chloe’s medicines. Jess’s true skill lies within her hacking abilities and when she finds damning evidence about the cost of the medicines, she accidentally leaves a trace of herself in the system. What follows has larger impacts on her family than she could possibly guess.
A thrilling adventure and one that shows how children entirely reliant on tech would likely struggle to survive in the outside world. While tech is great and certainly a much needed and relied upon part of our world, what happens when the tech fails, when maps and a compass are your greatest tools?
The characters are perfectly written and I felt as though I could imagine them perfectly. Jess is determined, caring but sceptical. Mae, has always been brought up without all the privileges of some of the others and she too finds it hard, initially, to trust. Violet is fascinating…always listening and very clever.
I loved the remnants of history woven in, the feel of an actual book, the use of paper maps, and the self sufficiency of Jess’s family. That all is still just part of our world but it is scary just how quickly this all could change.
What I did relate too was the efficiency and ease with which products could be ordered and the alogorthms which changed as you ordered one thing over another. I feel this is already something we need to be concerned with..
This would make for an epic class read and there could be so many brilliant debates and discussions over some of the events and issues facing Jess, her family and friends.