Davroe offers a YA sci-fi fantasy about a future society in the first of her Trickster series.
Ellani Drexel’s life is about to change, mostly for the better. Her father, Warren, is being celebrated for creating a wildly popular virtual-reality game. President Cyr, who owns the company, G-Corp, that powers the beautiful city of Evanescence, is giving Warren the Civil Enrichment Award, which will make his family part of the city’s elite. That’s the good part; the bad part is that since Ellani’s mother died, her father has kept a promise to make sure that his daughter stays a “Natural” even though most everyone she knows has multiple “mods” that make them look more pleasing. Poor folks outside the city walls, the Disfavored, can’t afford such mods, and the Evanescence Elite looks down on them. Still, Ellani has many suitors, including a broadcaster named Zane and Bastian, the adopted son of her Uncle Simon. Everything falls apart when Warren dies in a car crash that also takes Ellani’s legs. She’s imprisoned in her foster home and soon learns that everyone thinks she’s dead. She uses her father’s game to explore the outside world, as it gives her back her legs. In virtual reality, she finds out how powerful she can be—and how dangerous she can be to President Cyr. Davroe creates a fully realized world in Evanescence and its sister cities and gives it a compelling mythology. There’s a broad history and some philosophy in this “Post-America” and many small details that bring the main characters to life. The story raises some thought-provoking questions about what’s real and what’s not in a society in which people are hooked on changing themselves in the real world but still find virtual reality appealing. However, although Davroe offers some explanation for why Ellani doesn’t use the game to find a way to escape her foster home, it seems a bit thin. Also, the story doesn’t develop some of the secondary characters enough for readers to care what happens to them.
An imaginative and clever, if imperfect, tale that leaves a lot of room for Davroe to explore in future installments.