*I received an ecopy of this book via Xpresso Book Tours. This has not influenced my review.
I think some lists will do nicely for this one, so let’s start with the things I liked:
– The characters and their interactions were realistically complex. There was Bode with his friendliness, his sweetness, his determination to get Wren to trust him, his kindness toward her (he even watched cheesy vampire movies with her and everything)… but he also left me feeling a little uneasy, and he clearly had secrets and a weird, tense dynamic with Hazen (his brother). There was Hazen, who certainly had charisma and drive, as I would expect from the CEO of a huge company, but he was a jerk, in a really believable way, and had a dark, selfish side. There was Hutton, who was bitchy and cutthroat but showed vulnerability sometimes when her mask slipped. There was Maddox, another pawn in the game who wasn’t perfect but at least somewhat believed he was doing the right thing. Even the other celebrities in the show came across as real people rather than just caricatures. Like Beau, a presidential candidate in an upcoming election who was so drunk he didn’t even know what was going on half the time but somehow still managed to function and smile for the cameras. And like Viks, who in many ways was basically a caricature with her cattiness and jealousy, but it was just her shield, and you could see that there was a broken person underneath. And like Kruz, who was a sweet boy and clearly didn’t fit in with the rest of them. And even like Foster who came across as nothing more than a skeevy, drug-addicted rockstar at first but had his own secrets and insecurities. Roman was the only one who seemed cliche with his brooding angsty-ness, but even he had another side that could be interesting to see more of. Honestly, Wren was probably the one I found least interesting, but I did admire her in some ways; she tried to do the right thing at times when I wouldn’t have blamed her for doing otherwise, but she wasn’t perfect, and she was determined to survive.
– I was concerned about how anyone, especially a meek girl who grew up in poverty, would ever be able to pretend to be a celebrity, but even that came across about as realistically as I think was possible. It helped that she spent all that time learning personal things about Sloane since I think that actually would make a big difference in pretending to be someone, getting that full, rounded out picture of who they were.
– The book started out slow, but I got more hooked once it got to the part about the filming. The pace was faster, there was more interaction among characters, there was more tension, and the stakes started to feel more real. By about 75% I was totally into the while behind-the-scenes reality show thing and loving all the drama, like the secrets about Foster, Hazen, and Bode that were revealed.
– Knowing what I know now, all the twists and secrets, I think this book would make for an interesting reread. I’m not planning to, but the revelations bring a new dimension to a lot of scenes.
Now the things I disliked:
– I was expecting a faster pace and more sci-fi. It was slow-paced for the first half or so, and the sci-fi aspects were mainly a slightly different dystopian future, holograms, and some medical advances (although, to be honest, I’m not even sure exactly what kind of sci-fi I was expecting).
– The book pushed my suspension of disbelief for some things. The medical tube that could completely change how someone looked. The fact that Hazen and Bode brought Wren so deep into their inner circle and asked her to help figure out who the Whitebird insider was even though she was just a random girl. That the Whitebirds plans would’ve worked so perfectly and that they would’ve even had all the technology necessary. Pretty much everything revealed at the end. *SPOILER* (The Hutton thing. Mak’s involvement—especially since that means she was must’ve been ok with the plan.) *END SPOILER*
So overall, I think the positives outweighed the negatives, I liked the complex characters and interactions, and I got more into the book as it went along!
Anyone who likes young adult dystopian, complex characters and interactions, and conspiracy-type mystery.