Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review: Nirvana by J.R. Steward

by J.R. Stewart
Series:  Nirvana #1
Pub. Date:  Nov. 10, 2015
Publisher:  Blue Moon Publishers
Pages:  186
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized - even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.

Nirvana is a fast-paced, page-turning young adult novel combining elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance. Part of a trilogy, this book introduces readers to a young woman who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so.

This was one of the most confusing books I have read in a long time... parts of it just didn't make sense to me. And it wasn't even the part that was delving into the mathematics of music or quantum theory of matter, which is enough to make my brain spin sometimes. But in this case, the story seemed to jump around sometimes and I couldn't always tell whose POV I was supposed to be focused on.

So this book is set in a dystopian future which is barren and desolate due to the extinction of earth's honey bees. The world building in this book was slack. The wealthy are living in bubbles that (I think) are in the Milky Way, there is tons of virtual reality going on, a bad place called "the Farm," and soldiers stuck in the Barracks to patrol the barren wasteland. While we know these places exist, that is nearly all we know. The different places are not explained, nor how they were created, how people were segregated, etc. My inquisitive mind wanted more. We really didn't even learn how the universe came to be in this condition, other than one weird conversation between Krag and Kaster that seemed thrown in just to give us a little insight. Instead it came off as forced and awkward - there was just too much telling and not enough showing.

The whole time I was reading I kept thinking that I should DNF this book, but I kept going because I wanted to find out what happened to Andrew. Our H/h in the story are Larissa Kenders and her husband, Andrew. I'm not sure why I keep seeing the book classified as young adult because our main characters are 30ish. Anyway, Andrew disappears and this is the story of Kenders believing he is alive when everyone else says he is dead. She spends the book searching for him and trying to find out what he was working on. There is lots of conspiracy and theories... but nothing is resolved. So beware of that, this is not a standalone and it has a cliffhanger.

None of the characters in this book felt real to me - they were all one-dimensional and flat. I found the often long and involved explanations of math and science to be more interesting than the characters. I found myself skimming over some long drawn-out detailed sections. It seemed that the areas where a lot of detail was added were not pertinent to the story, while we were left wanting for things that would have enhanced the reading experience (i.e. the world, history and character development).

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.