Black Mirror meets My So-Called Life in this fast-paced, timely YA thriller about separating fact from fiction–and how far we’ll go to create our own version of reality.
Like any other teenager, Jess Flynn is just trying to get through her junior year without drama… but drama seems to keep finding her. Between a new crush on her childhood best friend, overprotective parents cramping her social life, and her younger sister’s worsening health, the only constant is change – and her hometown of Swickley, which feels smaller by the day.
Swickley is getting weirder by the day, too. Half the population has been struck down by a mysterious flu. Conversations end awkwardly when Jess enters the room. And then one day, a tiny, sleek black device–with an apple logo on it – falls out of her best friend’s backpack and lands at Jess’s feet.
With elements of The Truman Show, Black Mirror, Disneyland, Battle Royale 2 and The Village, this is an utterly bizarre book, but one I couldn’t stop reading. I did have some issues with the story being poorly written at times, but just how compulsively readable it was pushed it up a star.
Jess starts to realise that her life is an elaborate lie, and that everyone around her is lying too. When the boy she has a crush on explains what is really going on, she chooses to leave town, helped by clues left by her sister, Sara and a guy she assumed was a brainless jock, but who actually has a lot more going on under the surface.
The biggest issue I had was Jess herself, who had very little reaction to finding out that her entire life was a lie, her parents weren’t who she thought they were, her dog had been replaced and the boy she was crushing on was actually a total douchebag. I felt like she should have been going through the stages of grief, but that never happened.
I did however, like Jess and Kipps relationship. As he knew the world outside Jess’s town, and what was going on, he was very much needed in the story to explain everything to Jess and I felt that the duo bounced off of each other really well.
This is the first book in the series and I’m looking forward to the next, because I have some unanswered questions – I have a feeling that at some point Jess will go back to her town, she’s supposed to be legally an adult and can make her own choices at 18, but I’m wondering if the people in charge will simply allow her to walk away.