Nirvana (Nirvana #1) by J.R. Stewart
Ebook, 186 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Blue Moon (REVISED EDITION)
This is a great example of how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I think the cover looks fantastic. I have to admit to being a tiny bit biased because I’m really into blueish toned covers. Yet even if it wouldn’t have been blue, I still would have thought: “Hey, this seems like something I’d like to read!”. Furthermore, this book has all the keywords to grab my attention: female punk rock star, virtual reality, moshpits, environmental sciences, dystopian setting; bring it on!
Sadly, it just didn’t live up to my expectations at all. The cover of the book is way better than its contents.
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.
The prologue seemed like a great introduction to an awesome plot. After finishing the book, I have no idea why it was in there. It seems very disconnected from the rest of the story. As if it was part of the original plot line, except that’s gone now and all that is left is a random prologue.
The first 10-15% or so were promising. It reminded me a bit of James Morris’ Melophobia, which I loved. Melophobia was way better, though. I soon started to get annoyed with sentences that involved the words ‘years ago’. Kenders used to be an environmental activist years ago. She was a successful punk rock star years ago. She got engaged to Andrew years ago. They both went to university years ago. Andrew always made each birthday so special for her. Not specifically years ago, but ‘always’ and ‘each birthday’ imply that this is a thing that’s been going on for years. Now here comes the reason why this was totally implausible: Kenders is 17 years old.
When I started reading this, I didn’t know it was a revised edition. I just had the feeling that this had been a different book at first. One with Kenders and Andrew being in their late 20’s originally yet got turned into teens in some new version to be able to get the popular YA-tag out of it while keeping the rest of the events pretty much the same.
So now, Kenders already had several careers plus got engaged to Andrew ‘years ago’ when she was like, what, 12?
“I wish that Andrew and I had just been regular teens, and had had this kind of fun.”... “So often our schedules conflicted, and we didn’t ever have that period of carefree youth.”
Dude, you ARE teens.
When I looked at some reviews after finishing the book, I found out my suspicions weren’t far from the truth. The book HAD been completely revised, yet not particularly in order to fit the YA-profile, but due to the bad reviews it received for the first edition.
As if these weird illogicalities weren’t enough, I came across one inconsistency after the other. Things just didn’t make sense to me.
Then there’s Serge, a guy who’s been mentioned in the odd mismatching prologue, yet who doesn’t make his full appearance until later in the book. I couldn’t connect with his character at all, making an emotional scene at the end of the book very bland and drawn-out for me. Come to think about it, I really didn’t care for any of the characters. There were some stereotypical Bond-villains like Paloma and Tremaine. Andrew…well *shrugs*. Kenders, the protagonist, was a bit better developed than the other characters, but I still couldn’t find myself connected to her in any way, probably also because of the weird 17-year-old thing.
The environmental message in the book was alright in the sense that a lot of people aren’t aware of how important bees are to us. Maybe some of them who read this book will think twice before using pesticides or squashing a bee just because it’s a ‘nuisance’ now. However, the underlying message of how all big corporations are basically evil and everything is just one giant conspiracy theory was a bit too much paranoia for my taste.
The world building is interesting. The concept of Nirvana’s virtual reality was alright but left me wondering about some of the technicalities of it. Doesn’t running around in a virtual world make you run around in real life as well? Maybe I should look up some more information on how the Oculus Rift works movement-wise. And then imagine a futuristic version of it.
Speaking of running around, there were a few action scenes that were written really well, so maybe after another revision, this book will finally be what it’s supposed to be. Until then, I’m giving it two brownies of which half a brownie is for pointing out the endangerment of bees and what would happen if they became extinct. Even though there are still other ways of pollination, it’s going to be bad, but…probably a tat less bad than what happens to the future in this book.
An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Links to the book:
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