Top gamer Sofi Snow and her team compete in the FanFight Games, which take place in an arena in post–Fourth World War Manhattan.
During a game, Shilo, the brown-skinned teen’s younger brother and the team’s on-the-field player, is unexpectedly attacked by an opposing player who’s strapped with a bioweapon. The ensuing explosion is believed to have killed Sofi and her entire team, including Shilo. Sofi survives, however, and goes into hiding, protected by her underground community of hackers. Sofi believes Shilo is alive and has been kidnapped by the Delonese, the humanoid, extraterrestrial species that resides on the ice planet that now orbits Earth. With Earth’s natural resources all but depleted, humans are left to rely on the Delonese for advanced technology. Needing undercover transport to the ice planet to save Shilo, Sofi turns to Miguel, the suave, fully tatted, brown-skinned young ambassador to the Delonese. What begins feeling like an interactive video game version of the Hunger Games evolves into an unfolding political plot as both Sofi and Miguel, in alternating third-person chapters, seek to uncover who is behind the terrorist attack. Dry political discourse in Miguel’s chapters occasionally stalls a strong beginning. Though the diverse cast of hackers that drives this dystopian tale is refreshing, characterizations are underdeveloped, suiting this tale to readers who favor plot over all else.
A cool vision of future Earth that realistically reflects an increasingly multicultural world. (Science fiction. 14-18)