Series: The Leveller #1
Published by: HarperTeen on June 23, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.
Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.
But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?
Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?
Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, thanks to Julia Durango’s cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance adds some heart to Nixy’s vivid, multidimensional journey through Wyn’s tricked-out virtual city, and constant twists keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
One Line: Not as action-packed as I was hoping for.
In My Opinion: Worth a try!
I always get intrigued by a “virtual world” setting and I truly believe this might be in our future someday. A lot of the games I like to play focus on world-building, kind of like Sim City. I thought it was pretty cool that Durango had a character like Nixy who made a living out of bringing kids back out from the MEEP into the real world. I was also very intrigued with the conspiracy theory and how that would play out. Unfortunately, things weren’t as fleshed out or as dangerous as I was hoping and the book as a whole fell kind of flat for me. I could quickly and easily tell who was behind Wyn’s kidnapping and it wasn’t all that diabolical, to be honest.
My favorite part of the book was when Nixy went into Wyn’s world. She had to face quite a few obstacles before she could get there and I loved it. It was unpredictable, action-packed, and engaging. You get ferocious animals, creepy creatures, and so much more. It was kind of what I was expecting more of the book would be about. For a book centered around virtual reality, I wanted more of that creativeness and limitless imagination that I associate with this theme. Anyways, I loved how each obstacle tested Nixy in various ways and I loved seeing how she handled it all, physically and mentally. She made me laugh a lot throughout the book, but this was where I liked her the most.
I also really liked Nixy’s relationship with her parents. They’re actually part of the coding team who run the MEEP, her dad helping to create the worlds itself and her mom working on the verbal coding that the characters actually say. It was pretty cool. They were definitely a fun and cute little family and even though we don’t get much of them, I really liked what I did get.
I could’ve done without the romance and I honestly didn’t care for it at all. It was kind of like they were working towards a good friendship with a mutual understanding and then suddenly it jumped right into the romance between Nixy and Wyn. There are setbacks which stop the relationship from progressing and giving it more of a chance to develop, but by then I was already turned off from it so it felt more like an aside to me. It didn’t add anything to the overall storyline and just felt like it was placed there because “every book needs a romance of sorts”.
So yes, The Leveller isn’t as action-packed or exciting as I hoped it would be. There were definitely good parts and I liked Nixy overall. She’s pretty snarky and confident, and I liked being in her head. But, the story kind of fizzles out and it ends up being kind of boring towards the end.