Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.
Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.
But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?
Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?
This book was like taking a vacation. The plot wasn’t too deep, the characters didn’t have some deep-seated angst or hatred for the world, no one was emotionally scarred, and it made me laugh. Perfect for easing yourself out of a reading slump, which is where I’ve found myself for the past two weeks.
I’ll be perfectly honest in telling you that I found the plot to be pretty far-fetched. I mean, I really don’t know a lot about science, but I didn’t quite connect all the pieces of why they were able to hold people captive in their own mind, and I would have liked to know more about the Black and why it messes people up , eats walls, etc. But then, if I had been given all those extra details, it wouldn’t have been as easy and as light to read. As it was, the plot was quick and airy, the reasons never quite as important as the action, and that was totally fine for me. I wish they would have gotten through all the introductory settings more quickly, but I understand that they were needed to introduce all the characters that did end up playing an important role as opposed to just being funny side friends. That could also just be me- I’ve never liked setting books up and all the general interactions of characters, so when a short book spends too much time on them, I tend to get impatient. However, I was glad not to be loaded down with all kinds of extra information that kept me from enjoying the details and frankly, the rest of the book. At the end of the book, when the bad guy is revealed and the problem is resolved, I felt that it was a little bit too quick, everything resolving itself in a matter of pages, but It didn’t feel…wrong. It was just a quick ending to a quick read, nothing too deep and there is absolutely no problem with that, to me. It wasn’t a mystery, it wasn’t a thriller, it was just a plain old good read.
Obviously, with such a small book, you don’t get a lot of character development. Nixy was a decent heroine, feisty in her own right, and I appreciated her frustration as I can relate to being annoyed with a video game you just can’t seem to beat. On the other hand, I found it a little bit ridiculous that a teenage girl could do what so many ‘MEEP-O men’ (and women, as was so pointedly added in the book) completely and totally failed at, and ended up emotionally scarred from, to boot. Nixy Bauer is totally calm when professional adults come back and have to be treated for PTSD? That’s going a little bit too far. I mean, there’s something to be said for mental fortitude, but really? She came out unscathed? No. Nope. That was the only major problem I had with the writing of The Leveller.
Wyn was a charmingly bland character. All the right features in all the right places, perfect smiles an Cuban good looks, but he didn’t really strike me as worth dying for. Or risking my life for. I mean, especially not for such a piddly sum as five grand. Not when his dad’s a billionaire+ and I need to pay my way through college! That would pay for like, a semester at an OKAY college where I’m at. But back to Wyn- His name works really well with the story- Wyn and Nixy, fighting for their lives! I liked that about this book: there were lots of well-chosen names. Wyn was one of those, but nothing else about him made an impression on me. He was just kind of…there, but I suppose that’s what happens when you don’t spend much time of character development.
Nixy’s friends, Moose and Chang, were actually key players in this novel, surprisingly enough. And I really liked them. They’re the kind of people I always used to hang out with, smart and funny and goofy as all get-out. That little plot twist at the end was pretty good, I’ll admit, and even if you *TOTALLY SAW THAT COMING*, it was a pretty solid ending to the story. Everyone ended up pretty much safe (except that one girl- I really would like to know what happened to her).
I liked the book. It was kind of cheesy (the MEEP? Nothing will lower your terror impact more than saying MEEP all the time) and very light, but I appreciated the lack of complex interaction as a stepping-stone for getting back into my heavy-duty reading. It wasn’t as realistic or intense as Jen Alexander’s Aftermath, but that didn’t mean it was a bad book. I give it a 3 of 5 stars, and yes, I would recommend it to a friend who needs a quick read.
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