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Parents' Guide to


By Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Complex, thrilling start to thoughtful dystopian trilogy.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 14+

Well written, but...

Loved the story line and the author has a good writing style. Listened to this as an audiobook during a family driving trip. Be aware that the sexuality rating does not even mention "scenes" where a male character and female character are in a virtual reality simulation but have switched genders in their characters. The author decided to spend a couple sentences with the one character mentioning how they could grope themselves. (Definitely a gratuitous inclusion... not needed for the story or character development.) Another "scene" pertains to a male character having memories pulled from his brain and the author spent a minute or so describing his daydream/fantasy of a female character having her uniform fall off in front of him. Even my 15 year old son was so uncomfortable he skipped the audiobook to the end of that segment. Once again, this was truly gratuitous. Same painful embarrassing kinds of memories could have been accomplished with something non-sexually related. So, well written book, just be aware of the above and decide whether it is for your child/children.
age 11+


Futuristic book

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (6 ):

There's a lot of plotting here, and it will take a mature reader to both follow all the various story lines and understand the often-chilling subtext. This kickoff to a trilogy will certainly give teens plenty to think about, from the pros and cons of technology's growing role in our lives (and our bodies) -- to how much power corporations should have over global politics. Of course, there's plenty of fun stuff, too: Sci-fi fans will enjoy engaging virtual gaming sequences as Tom trains with his unit to learn tactics and teamwork -- sometimes appearing as wolves or characters from Camelot. Also, a programming assignment has the teens infecting one another with viruses that make them do silly things, such as bleat like sheep.

Readers who stick with Tom's story will understand his ego-driven decision to become a trainee and appreciate his growing sense of community with the other misfits in his class as he rises in rank. Even so, they'll suspect that future volumes of this fun, thrilling series will see him dismantle the same military that has turned him into a powerful weapon. A stellar start.

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