Dan Wells, author of the New York Times bestselling Partials Sequence, returns with a stunning new vision of the near future—a breathless cyber-thriller where privacy is the world’s most rare resource and nothing, not even the thoughts in our heads, is safe.
Bluescreen is a gripping science fiction thriller that gives us an interesting look into what our future might end up looking like, particularly if we keep making technological advances at such an accelerated rate.
Marisa loves playing the virtual reality action game called Overworld. She plays with her four friends – Anja, Sahara, Fang, and Jaya, and they have their own group called the Cherry Dogs. While Marisa, Sahara, and Anja live in Los Angeles, Jaya and Fang live across the world, but that isn’t a big deal, since they play together using their djinnis, which are smart devices (kind of like super smart phones) that are implanted right into the user’s brain, allowing them to simply blink to surf the web, talk to friends, or play games. Also, those with a djinni are pretty much plugged into the internet 24/7. While this is an interesting futuristic idea – Bluescreen shows us how this kind of technology has its drawbacks – some of them that are quite deadly.
When a drug called Bluescreen hits the streets, introduced to Marisa and Sahara by their friend Anja, they don’t think too much of it, until they watch Anja plug the drive into her djinni port in the back of her head (yes, there’s a permanent port in the back of the djinni user’s head – I don’t know about you, but that makes me cringe), and while she had claimed that the drug was perfectly safe, and would have an effect similar to that of Overworld, Anja’s reaction to Bluescreen makes everyone terrified. Anja blacks out and then tries to attack her father – attempting to plug another Bluescreen drive into his head. Since Anja is completely unable to control herself, it is up to her friends and her boyfriend, Omar, to help her until she wakes up again.
When Marisa and Sahara begin to uncover new information about Bluescreen, they see just how unsafe the drug really is, and where it really came from. Together the girls and their friend Bao (who doesn’t have a djinni) must race against the clock to prevent Bluescreen from reaching anyone else. But this is hard to do when they have to go without their djinnis and being detached from the internet…something none of them are quite used to anymore.
Bluescreen is an interesting start to a new series. While I haven’t read Partials, I have seen so much praise for it, and the whole premise behind Bluescreen sounded fantastic. I love a good YA science fiction novel, and this one doesn’t disappoint. I will say, however, that this book is a little bit busy – there is a bunch of stuff going on, so you really have to pay attention (I did have to go back a few times to look up some names when I forgot…there are a lot of characters in this book), so be prepared to devote some time to it so you don’t miss anything.
It was just the right amount of science fiction that makes a book great without actually overdoing it, which was nice. There weren’t any crazy ridiculous romances or anything, and the twist at the end was something I didn’t see coming. While the plot was great, I had a difficult time connecting to Marisa, although I loved Sahara’s character. Marisa had a difficult life so far, with several brothers and sisters (including a brother who joined a gang and was disowned by their parents), and parents who worked hard at their restaurant and still barely made ends meet.
While the story kind of wraps up, there is a lot of room for future installments in the series, and now that I’ve read this one, I’ll definitely read the next book, and I’ll also be going back to read Partials as well.
If you like YA science fiction, this is a great book to check out. It’s isn’t easy to create a science fiction novel that is this enjoyable, but Dan Wells does an amazing job with this one, and he creates a very believable futuristic world (and let me say that I’m definitely never getting a djinni installed if they become available in my lifetime!) that is both breathtaking and frightening!
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nomine for best new writer, and has won a Hugo award for his work on the podcast Writing Excuses; the podcast is also a multiple winner of the Parsec Award.