Format: E-Galley | 304 pages
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Genre: Young Adult | Cyberpunk | SyFy
In the domed city of Evanescence, appearance is everything. A Natural Born amongst genetically-altered Aristocrats, all Ella ever wanted was to be like everyone else. Augmented, sparkling, and perfect. Then…the crash. Devastated by her father’s death and struggling with her new physical limitations, Ella is terrified to learn she is not just alone, but little more than a prisoner.
Her only escape is to lose herself in Nexis, the hugely popular virtual reality game her father created. In Nexis she meets Guster, a senior player who guides Ella through the strange and compelling new world she now inhabits. He offers Ella guidance, friendship…and something more. Something that allows her to forget about the “real” world, and makes her feel whole again.
But Nexis isn’t quite the game everyone thinks it is.
And it’s been waiting for Ella.
NEXIS is the first installment in A.L. Davroe's Tricksters series. The story is set 231 years Post-America, which was destroyed by a Bio-Nuclear War and the subsequent fall-out that left the best and brightest survivors living in Domes. Nexis takes place in a domed city called Evanescence. Here there is a definite disconnect between what are called Aristocrats (Elites) who use modifications and alternations to change their appearances (not unlike Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series), and the Disfavored who are exposed to a very unhealthy environment.
One could also relate this story to the Hunger Games (I.E. the Capitol) since they go to extremes to look different from the rest of their peers. Protagonist Ellani Drexel's father Warren has risen through the ranks from a programmer to an Elite. When the story begins, he is receiving an award for creating a highly popular game called Nexis. Nexis is a virtual reality game that allows players to go on individual quests and gain teammates to help them complete their quest.
Ellani's world comes crashing down upon her when she and her father are in an accident that takes his life, and her legs. Upon waking up, she finds that she is a virtual prisoner under the control of a guardian. Everyone now believes that she is dead. Once she gets past the shocking loss of her father and the reality of her situation, she begins her journey into Nexis and learns that the game has chosen a name (Anasi's Child) and a quest. It is here that she makes an alliance with the mysterious Guster who guides her through the game, and captures her affections.
Ellani is highly unusual in that she is a Natural. She hasn't had any modifications, or alterations and that is mostly due to her mother's request that she remain who she is and not jump into the deep end of the pool with the rest of the sharks who jump at the first chance to alter their appearances so much, they can no longer recognize themselves in the mirror. Ellani has been portrayed as a highly intelligent programmer and designer. But there is so much more about her I can't share.
I have to stop here for a moment and say that NEXIS is one of those books where not overthinking things is a very good thing. The more you over-think who is responsible for Ellani's situation and why, or why a character hasn't caught onto what is happening around her, the more frustrating you can get, and miss important clues. You need to learn to flow with the story as Ellani discovers a whole new world and devious secrets that can change her entire world.
Ellani's journey into the game is really entertaining. I love how detailed the game really is. I love that she finds new allies, and someone who finds a way to break through to her heart. I don't mind flawed characters as long as they grow along with the series. I don't mind that smart characters act confused at times as long as they prove that they have the moxie to carry the series. I have faith that Ellani will do just that and make hard choices in the sequel.
The final part of this book is highly entertaining and left me with several very important questions about why Guster showed so much attention towards Ellani, and who he really is. One of the things you MUST pay attention to is the various time lines that the author creates. This story actually takes place over a period of 1 full year, rather than subsequent days. I am a fan of stories that actually move forward in time, and are not told in the span of 24 hours.