I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Nirvana by J.R. Stewart
Series: Nirvana #1
Published by Blue Moon on 2015-11-10
Length: 186 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?
Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized - even visits with Andrew.
Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.
Nirvana is a fast-paced, page-turning young adult novel combining elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance. Part of a trilogy, this book introduces readers to a young woman who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so.
I really wanted to like this one BUT it didn’t happen!!!! Nirvana by J.R. Stewart was not at all what I expected it to be. I struggled to connect with the characters, understand the plot and fall into the dystopian world the author created. At first I thought it was just me. There are some really good reviews on Goodreads from some of my own friends. I realized 40% in that I was reading an old, unedited draft. I had the nice, new shiny copy on my kindle so I restarted it…..it still failed 🙁
Larissa Kenders (Kenders from here on out because that’s what she goes by) is a seventeen year old punk rockstar. Yep you read that right. At 17, she’s famous for her music which was against “the man” and brought awareness to the bee extinction. I personally had a hard time liking and relating to this character. She’s already been to university, had a successful music career and is living with her fiancé….um….isn’t she just seventeen?! For me her character would have been more believable if she was older. View Spoiler »In the original draft she was 25 and doing these things. Not sure why the author felt the need to lower her age but leave the other characters and details the same. « Hide Spoiler OR if she’s 17, I don’t know, maybe doing 17 year old things like finishing high school, playing in her parents’ basement, that sort of thing.
But it wasn’t just Kenders that bothered me. It was the plot which was SO confusing. If I hadn’t read the old draft I really would have been completely lost. Kenders is living with her fiancé Andrew in a Hexagon complex, working in a Nirvana lab. Nirvana is a virtual reality experience and the peoples only escape to the world that no longer exists. With the extinction of bees, plant life died off and eventually the animals. Earth is a barren desert now. This premise originally drew me to the story. I was curious to see what occurred and how the bees died off, how humans are surviving. I can’t resist a good survival story, BUT that does not happen. The plot is more focused on the disappearance/death of Andrew and Kenders determination to find out what happened. The dystopian portion takes a backseat and the story feels more like a political message than an actual young adult dystopian.
Overall the story was just okay for me. I struggled and wound up having to force myself to finish it. As I finally got invested in the story and was actually excited to see what would happen, the author ends in an unnecessary cliffhanger, one that negates the entire plot of this book. The hidden message of the story, the inappropriate age of the main character (though not that the age is inappropriate her situation doesn’t match the age), and the lack of character development left me underwhelmed. I wouldn’t recommend this one….