ARC Review: Unplugged

Unplugged by Donna Freitas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.

But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.

Unplugged is sci-fi dystopia about a futuristic world in which the 1% lives in a virtual world called App World (lame name, btw) while the rest of the populations serves as Keepers for them. Skye is a Single, one of the lucky few who got a chance to be in App World, thanks to her family’s sacrifices. She doesn’t love the virtual world that much and longs to be reunited with them, to see them again. The first half of the book is setting up how the App World works and how Skye lives there, but I felt it was short on details and proper world-building. How does the economy work in the virtual world? Once the Cure was enacted and people became immortal in a virtual sense, why was there a need for a population cap? These details would have enhanced the book in a better way, rather than drone on about the various games and how Skye felt playing them – which was slowing down the pace and frankly, getting the story nowhere.

The second half moves the story to the real world, where Skye sees how different and enhanced feeling the real thing is. Every human activity is now being done by her actual body, rather than just her mind. I found this part of the book to be very good – finally there was some excitement to the plot and the hint of a conspiracy on the horizon. The romance is kind of boring, if you ask me, and played on predictable cliches. If only they would talk and discuss secrets! I had guessed some facets of the secrets being kept from her, and some others I was a bit shocked by. The Body Market is disturbing, but also makes sense in a weird way. However, the ending felt abrupt and out of nowhere – an epilogue would have suited the flow better. Overall, the book is good – it certainly offers something new and interesting, but on a technical level, it could have been written better.

Received a free galley from HarperTeen, via Edelweiss.

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