This series debut features a smart, surprising teaser of a plot that keeps readers off balance—in a good way—to the last page.
Regan missed her dad even before his tragic death. Elusion, the form of virtual reality he developed with her best friend, Patrick, took most of his time. Now, Elusion’s launch is a bittersweet triumph. For an hour, users are immersed in a beautiful Escape, forgetting life in a polluted Detroit subject to damaging acid rains, where oxygen masks are essential gear when outdoors. Not everyone is thrilled with Elusion. Regan’s classmate Avery is making damaging claims that though regulators have approved it as safe, Elusion’s highly addictive, putting users who’ve figured out how to stay longer at serious risk. While Regan rejects this, her attractive new friend, Josh, takes it seriously, and Patrick’s evasions don’t help. There’s something wrong with Elusion, and it’s been carefully covered up. The more Regan and Josh investigate, the worse it looks, causing Regan to question her dad’s role as well as Patrick’s. Exactly what’s behind the euphoria Elusion generates is unknown, but as her father tells her when he turns up in an Escape, it’s dangerous. Regan’s appealing though—minor quibble—perhaps a tad too rational when responding to the reality-twisting scenarios that are thrown at her.
An ingenious, compulsively readable cure for the blahs. (Science fiction. 14 & up)