Posts Tagged 'technology'

Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Genre: Futuristic/Sci Fi

Number of Pages: 355

The first in a series, Otherworld follows Simon, a wealthy teenage troublemaker as he tries to find out why his childhood best friend no longer wants to have anything to do with him. There is a new virtual reality videogame coming out called Otherworld, which he has been chosen to beta test. The equipment is expensive so he sends some to Kat, his best friend, in the hopes that she joins him in the game. They do meet up in the game, but in real life she is still very distant and he starts to worry that she could be in some kind of trouble because it seems like the trouble started after her mom remarried. He follows her to a party in order to try and find out what is going on, but before he can talk to her there is a terrible accident that leaves Kat in a coma with a condition called “locked in symdrome.” That basically means that her brain is intact, but incapable of interacting with her body. The tech company behind Otherworld comes forward with some new technology that they claim can help her to interact in the virtual reality world they have created called the White City. They say it will allow her to live, while she cannot in the real world. Simon is suspicious of this company from the beginning because they seem to be doing things without Kat’s mom’s consent and in the dead of night when no one can see them. When he raises objections to this technology being forced onto Kat he is removed from the hospital. After he gets home he receives a package with the equipment he needs to join “the white city” with a note that instructs him to go save her. Without any knowledge of what he is truly getting into he goes into the game without knowing how to find Kat or if he can find his way out again.

This story is recommended for fans of videogame books like The Eye of Minds and Warcross. Simon is by no means perfect, but readers will be able to identify with him because he is so flawed and yet his motives toward his friend are pure. The action both inside and outside the videogame is compelling as Simon faces dangers in both realities. In the end, there are a few people who try to help him but the majority of the risk is on him. Reluctant readers will find themselves pulled in by this story where it’s often difficult to find the true reality.

One by One by Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 372

When a small tech company brings it’s shareholders to a fancy French ski chalet they are expecting to have a relaxing, fun vacation where they discuss the future of the company. Erin is one of the two employees who are supposed to make the retreat a dream for their guests and Liz is the outcast of the group since she is a shareholder, but she no longer works at the company. Shortly after the group arrives one of the CEO’s mysteriously goes missing, but before they can start a search party there is a terrible avalanche that traps them and knocks out the power. As they wait for help mysterious things start to happen to the guests one by one. Told in alternating chapters between Erin and Liz it becomes obvious that there is something sinister going on, but it isn’t clear who is doing this and why. Can they get help before it’s too late?

This mystery is engaging and draws the reader in right from the beginning. It’s made clear that everyone has something to hide and no one really knows who they can trust. The climax is exciting and worth the build up as it is revealed what is really going on at this ski chalet. Fans of books like And Then There Were None will enjoy this thrilling tale set in a fun setting.

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

free to fall

# of Pages:  473

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

RAC:  Yes

Iowa High School Award Winner 2016

Rory is thrilled when she gets accepted into the prestigious Theden Academy, an all expense paid prep school with an excellent reputation.  Shortly before she leaves, she learns that her mother, who died in childbirth, also attended Theden and left her a symbolic necklace.  This story is set in the future where everyone is dependent on their smart phones and uses an app called Lux that makes literally every decision for them from what to major in to what to eat for breakfast.  As Rory settles in she meets a young barista at a nearby coffee shop and he helps her see what a disadvantage it is to always have an app make decisions for you.  She begins using Lux less and less and in the process notices more around her, including the shady practices of her new school.  Is someone out to get her?  What really happened to her mother and did she actually die during childbirth?

This is a fun, fast paced story that fans of futuristic fiction will enjoy.  The story is detailed and has many revelations that unfold in a timely way.  The characters are all well developed and it’s easy for the reader to see each of their motivations.  Despite there being quite a market for futuristic dystopian-esque books this one is unique enough to stand out and will keep readers engaged.

The Body Electric by Beth Revis

body electric

Genre:  Science Fiction

# of Pages:  466

RAC:  Yes

Ella lives with her mother in the new city that was built after a major world war.  Her mother is famous for inventing the technology of reveries, which enable people to go into a sleep where they can relive their happiest memories.  Her father was also a brilliant scientist who worked on finding a cure for the terrible disease her mother had before he was suddenly and tragically killed in a lab accident.  Ella’s mom has lived longer than anyone else with this disease, but she’s getting weaker and Ella knows it is only a matter of time before she’s on her own.  Her mother’s childhood friend helps run the reverie spa and one day informs Ella that she needs to go meet with the president of their newly established government.  The President informs her that she feels rebellious rumblings and will do whatever it takes to stop another war, including altering the memories of the rebels.  Ella isn’t sure about using her mother’s technology that way and goes to her father’s grave to think it over when a teenage boy comes up and acts like she should know him.  He knows things about her family and seems genuinely hurt she doesn’t know him.  Is it possible someone is using her mother’s technology to alter her memories?  If that’s true, what else doesn’t she remember?

This thrilling sci-fi novel takes many plot twists to get to the final conclusion.  Some readers may find the constant revelations start to get a little confusing at times as they happen quickly near the end.  As Ella’s parents were both genius scientists there are numerous referrals to science and technology in the ultimate resolution of the plot.  The characters are very memorable and engaging, especially considering some of them aren’t in the story that much.  The romance between Ella and the boy is well described and a believable source of angst for Ella, but isn’t dwelled upon too much in a book that has a lot going on.  Fans of sci fi will devour this title.

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  296 p.

RAC:  Yes

“Kid” attends a futuristic high school that is actually designed by corporations using an old mall.  In this world the government can no longer fund public education and therefore corporate sponsors have taken over.  Students ideally want to win a sponsorship so that they can enjoy money, free clothes, and tech gizmos.  Kid’s not interested in earning a sponsorship because she is fine being anonymous, but her mother does struggle to pay the bills.  When Kid witnesses an unusual rebellious act she is the only person who takes notice and brings it to people’s attention.  This immediately earns her fame and she is offered a chance at a sponsorship.  Can she take it when it could mean losing her privacy and creative rights to her music?  Can she not take it when it could mean an easier life for her mother?

Fans of futuristic stories will enjoy this title.  The setup of the corporate school system seems unbelievable and yet believable at the same time.  Hopefully the story will encourage teens to think about the affect of corporations and sponsors on our everyday lives.  The story also shows how willing people can be to give up everything in order to gain fame and fortune.  The end seems a bit rushed and might confuse some readers, but overall they will enjoy it and return to find out what happens in the next installment.

Fat Cat by Robin Brande

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  327

RAC Book:  Yes

Cat is a very serious science student who wants to wow her teacher with her year-long science project.  Her teacher gathers pictures from various locations and each student blindly chooses one at the beginning of the year.  Then, they have one hour to create a project idea that relates to that picture.  Cat is not thrilled when she picks a picture of ancient hominids.  She quickly realizes this could be a unique opportunity to start living healthier and simpler.  She is overweight and addicted to caffeine, in addition to several forms of technology.  She decides that from September to March she will eat only what was available to hominids (with a few health regulated rules) and using only technology available to hominids (with the exception of technology she needs for school use only).  This includes eating nuts and berries, walking most places, and never watching T.V.  As Cat’s experiment takes off she wonders how much of our lives are affected by the lifestyle we keep.  Can Cat survive on this lifestyle until March?  What kinds of changes will she notice in herself?

This story has a unique and interesting premise.  The supporting characters are also fun and lively as they help Cat navigate through this experiment.  The side story with Cat’s former best friend is fairly predictable and takes awhile to actually resolve, but readers won’t mind waiting.  The idea of strengthening our bodies and minds with fewer chemicals, preservatives, and modern conveniences is very interesting and plays out well in the story.  Recommended for students who like like books like Meg Cabot.

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Genre:  Realistic fiction

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

2010 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Eli and his family rush to a compound one night when they fear there is going to be a nuclear attack on the U.S.  Eli’s dad is a software billionaire and had the compound made with ample square footage and all of the amenities.  Unfortunately, Eli’s twin brother, Eddy, and their grandmother do not make it to the compound in time and his father shuts the door without them.  Six years later the family is having a difficult time coping with the life they have had in this compound.  There were some problems that his father did not anticipate and food is starting to run short.  Eli is not comfortable with some of the choices his family has made in order to survive, but he is most bothered by the loss of his twin and the guilt he feels about their final moments together.  Worst of all, Eli’s dad is as controlling and difficult as ever and Eli wonders if he is telling them the whole truth about their current situation.

This book was captivating from the very beginning.  There are many surprises throughout as Eli reveals his life in the compound and how they are trying to cope with such limitations.  As Eli takes a stand against their current life and tries to find some answers for how to improve it, he finds some hard and unexpected truths.  A good read for anyone, but boys and specifically reluctant readers will enjoy.

Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Fantasy

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 417 p.

Series: Uglies, Pretties, Specials

RAC Book: Yes

In this fourth book of the Uglies series, Aya is living as an ugly after the complete reconstruction of their societies. Now that no one is forced to look the same or get brain lesions, the resources they had previously shared happily are in short supply as people want to expand their houses and towns. Now that everyone is thinking clearly they are not satisfied with what they have and continue to want more and bigger things. The community has established a system for earning merits in order for people to acquire items they want. One way they earn merits is by giving everyone a face rank and the more famous a person is the more merits he or she gets. The other way is to earn merits through schoolwork and volunteering.

Aya is desperate to be famous like her brother, so she joins a group of girls called the Sly Girls. The Sly Girls are very mysterious and no one knows anything about them, so Aya feels if she can report a story on them she will get famous. What Aya ends up uncovering is bigger than she could have ever imagined and she quickly comes to realize that fame is not what she imagined.

This fourth book answers many questions unanswered in the Specials such as what has happened to everyone now that The Specials have been relieved of their power. There are many interesting and exciting events in this book, but the final outcome of the story seemed quickly resolved and not as interesting as the previous three. This new community and its rules are not described until well into the book and students might be confused as to why fame is so important to Aya. The door was definitely left open for further books and I have no doubt that students will be eagerly awaiting them. Worth a read, but not the strongest in the series.