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Two teenage friends from different parts of the United States embark on a high-tech adventure in Shaw’s (Neworld Papers: The Warriors’ Tale, 2016, etc.) YA sci-fi tale.

GundTech, the technology firm that revolutionized the world years ago with its cutting-edge communication and artificial-intelligence products, has a new device that’s poised to change everything once again. The Interactive Holographic Transporter allows users to experience a virtual reality so real that it may even be physically dangerous. For Cameron Rush in Wisconsin and Rosa Costas in New Mexico, the best part of the announcement involves the creation of an IHT Academy for teenagers like them. Although the two have never met in person and come from very different backgrounds, they’re both “geeks” (whether Cameron will admit it or not) who hang out via their GundTech multiComs. For them, the reward of getting accepted to the academy outweighs any potential risks. What they don’t know is that there are other forces at work behind the scenes. For one, the mysterious child prodigy behind GundTech’s inventions is grown up now and starting to realize that his well-intentioned products can cause unintended consequences. And the tech’s code still has some bugs, including some that are dangerous and others that that may have been planted by someone (or something) with his or her own agenda. Shaw has crafted a thought-provoking story that hints at issues that today’s youth already face, such as how technology can be a boon as well as a bane, but he never lets these topics overwhelm the joy of the overall story. Young readers will quickly relate to Cameron and Rosa as they get swept up in their virtual studies. However, the story sags a bit in the second half due to the introduction of a game called “time tag,” a neat idea, but one that distracts too much from the plot. Some readers may be dismayed at the all-too-abrupt ending, as well. But most will find this novel to be an intelligent, inspiring adventure with fully formed characters.

A fun, tech-focused YA novel set in a futuristic yet familiar world.

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-692-37518-1
Page count: 326pp
Program: Kirkus Indie
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