On a quest to find her missing father, a teen and her friends create a virtual reality experience that goes viral.
Seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper has a talent for coding, an entertainer’s instincts, and an entrepreneur’s drive for disruption. She’s also haunted by an old mystery: Why did her father disappear, and what is his old partner, Howie Mendelsohn, keeping secret? When Howie’s firm, Palo Alto Labs, launches a contest on their VR platform, offering the winner a chance to meet with Howie himself, Opal leaps at the chance to get some answers—even if it means stealing private data. But every strategic step that this smart, complex heroine takes toward fame, fortune, and closure lands her on shakier moral ground and stretches her loyalties. The absorbing narrative takes readers to a near future where smart-voice assistants, self-driving Teslas, the Hyperloop, and delivery drones are du jour. But men still run the big tech companies, female entrepreneurs still struggle with harassment and inequity, and anti-technology movements are on the rise. Despite the unsatisfying ending, Opal’s journey raises good questions: Can we be better than our internet selves? What if we allowed computers to track our most private thoughts and feelings? Could robots and humans live in harmony? The answers, of course, are still under development. Opal is assumed white and her best friend is Nigerian.
An immersive ride through the near future with a compelling heroine at the helm. (Science fiction. 12-17)