Stand-along // YA // Tech thriller
This book surprised me, came completely out of nowhere to be honest. Before I ordered in through Book of the Month YA, I hadn’t even heard of it. But this book really amps up in action, and becomes more complicated towards the end. I love books that do this, that look simple and shallow at the beginning, but really, naturally, become more of a deep mystery.
Arden, our main character, is at a science-focused school that have graduates feeding directly into the industry. She is the daughter of the headmistress, and through her access of the Hivemind, is able to hack, duplicate, and sell her classmate’s memories. Hivemind is a system that allows the users to upload their memories for permanent backup, with their private school as the centerpiece exhibition and trial for this technology going more widespread.
Arden comes to school one morning to find a boy she doesn’t know asking her about a test in their mutual class. When her best friend (and business associate) freaks out that she doesn’t know him, she checks her own memories and finds all memories associated with him have been completely wiped.
I love the “boarding school” feel and setting (not really a boarding school, but the high-end, high-tech prep school fits the feel), and the main character being the headmistress’ daughter helps the plot move smoothly without forcing “deus ex machina” moments. She knows the school well, as well as the science labs that connect to the school, since that is where her brother works, which helps us as the reader feel more comfortable with slipping into the book’s setting and any of the moments that the main characters were sneaking around.
The complicated tech in this book is really balanced, making it feel like this book lets us into the minds of our characters without belittling the reader or make it feel pretentious, out of reach, or understandable. Our main character is really talented, and I love that her passion is inspired by her dad. She is able to use her computer, as well as draw conclusions and connections.
One note: the science of this book definitely falls into sci-fi territory, but the computer, hacking tech parts felt more modern and understandable.
I would call this a thriller, though it’s more a high-adrenaline suspense novel with a smart, tech edge. Is that the definition of a thriller? 😂 Having your memory played with is such a nerve-racking and smart way to raise tension, since it’s such a relatable feat; I could definitely feel the stress of what our characters were feeling in a real, visceral way.
I did not predict who the villain of the story is (not saying much since I never guessed any Nancy Drew villain either) but it was a really good solution as everything else in the book gets a little confusing and complicated. The book goes in a direction I didn’t expect, but in a way that made sense and didn’t force the plot in an unnatural way. At the beginning of the book, it’s hard to tell how central our main characters are to the mystery, and it’s nice to discover how tied together they are and what’s happening to them along with what’s happening around them.
Ego and determination play a lot in this plot, being a great contrast to our main characters feeling helpless and hopeless as their memories are taken away, and can’t stop it even if they know it’s happening in the moment.
I even liked the romance, and felt they had a really strong connection together, with them coming together as their memories unravel and they try to rediscover their past. I rooted for them on every page.
Other September 2019 Reads:
These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi
The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
The Spinner of Dreams by K. A. Reynolds
Mind Games by Shana Silver
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
The Babysitters Coven by Kate M. Williams
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir