A summer coding competition ends in tragedy.
Shy, 16-year-old coding whiz Nora Weinberg is a ball of nerves when she arrives at New England’s venerable Winthrop Academy for the Summer Maker Program, which showcases the brightest young talents in coding and culminates in a cash prize. Nora feels constantly overlooked and is dying for someone to notice her. Luckily, she has InstaLove, an augmented reality social app. When InstaLove pings on the handsome Maddox Drake, Nora is instantly smitten—and she’s thrilled when he asks her to help him tweak InstaLove’s programming using an InSight Visor, a type of AR glasses. Unfortunately, Maddox has a long history with the beautiful and very rich Eleanor Winthrop, who makes it clear she doesn’t want Maddox anywhere near Nora. But Maddox is falling for Nora, and Eleanor is hiding a secret hinted at through entries in her online journal. Cue the virtual and IRL shenanigans. Nora’s constant self-deprecation grates, her romance with Maddox is underdeveloped, and side characters mostly exist to service the plot. The disappearance of a student leads to a muddled denouement that fails to shock. Minor diversity can be found in the supporting cast, but most main characters appear to be white, and Nora briefly mentions her Jewish heritage.
Heavy on angst, light on suspense. (Mystery. 13-18)