Author: Heather Anastasiu
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Source: E-arc from publisher on Netgalley
Book Description from Goodreads:
In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.
When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.
As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.
In this future world everything has become cold, calculating and efficient. Everyone is implanted with computer chips that suppress emotions, colour and freedom. Everyone has a role in the Community, and the calming feed from the Link ensures compliance. But the teenage mind is a fickle one, for any parent or now young adult, we all know it was a trying time. It was when we tried to figure out our place in the world and pushed the boundaries, so imagine how difficult it is for a teenager whose life is completely controlled - but the inevitable glitches that come with technology throws our character Zoe into a whole new exciting world.
The cover perfectly suites this book with the mechanical but bold text and the iconic port on the base of the neck for all the hardware upgrades of which we get to experience first hand throughout the book.
We're immediately introduced to the main character Zoe, she's glitching and during her glitching moments she's fighting between panicking that she might get caught by the authorities and enjoying the sensations that come with life. Anastasiu gives Zoe a very clipped voice which works extremely well with the impassiveness that is expected of them, but she also manages to differentiate the voice with a different tone that shows a more immature and childlike Zoe while glitching. Zoe really is mentally immature with all the emotional suppressing that they go through, so when she glitches she begins asking questions and learning parts of the world that we all take for granted like love, hate and fresh air. A good portion of the book is dedicated to watching Zoe grow and form relationships. While she might not be the strongest character ever, she does have a strong moral compass that is incredibly admirable.
There's a bit of an attempt at a love triangle here between the two main boys Adrian and Max.
Adrian always has the best intentions at heart, and he knows what's at stake if they're caught as glitchers in the Community. He's a careful planner, which is made easier by his additional ability of precognition. His and Zoe's relationship starts out pretty unconventionally and really has to pass the test of time. It forms pretty quickly - pretty much after they meet (I'm going to blame this on Zoe's tightly curbed hormones that are now raging uncontrollably), and while I was on the fence about their relationship I found myself really rooting for them at the end.
Max on the other hand has been a constant in Zoe's life so when all their secrets come out and he confesses that he wants to be with Zoe it leaves her very confused. Where Adrian was just plain sweet, Max definitely had a darker side to him that was ruled by anger and passion. There were times where I was genuinely afraid and disturbed by him and his actions.
The writing style is very methodical, it keeps with the theme of control. But it also made it hard for me to keep interested in between the glitches where a less formal writing style was used. While there was some world building in the beginning - eventually I just felt like I was staring a boring concrete walls and that's all there was to this world. But the bits of high tech gadgets did brighten the world here and there.
The middle of the story seemed to lull a bit, but the end was well worth the wait. Anastasiu takes the reader on a surprise and twist filled ending that had me questioning at each turn who was with and against Zoe and a greater conspiracy is revealed that I totally didn't see coming. The ending definitely leaves me interested in how this story is going to proceed in the future.
Overall: 3/5 Drinkable Cups of Tea.
This whole book really reminded me of The Matrix in the way that people are slaves serving Uppers, and having their lives controlled by a machine, even the whole Oracle dictated life and romance plot point is present. Then with all the different powers that these glitchers seemed to harness it was very much like X-Men, at one point I was drawing parallels between Zoe and Jean Grey's telekinetic prowess. I don't think this story is going to speak to everyone, but it definitely is a great read for fans of sci fi.