A young woman must free those trapped in a simulation aboard a failing spaceship before it’s too late.
It’s been decades since Earth was devastated by nuclear war. A lottery granted a group of San Francisco teens the chance to board a billionaire’s spaceship and remain in stasis until the Earth is ready for their return. But something has gone wrong with Paracosm, the simulation meant to provide a safe haven for their minds. The ship’s systems are failing, food is running out, and if its inhabitants don’t awaken, returning home might not be an option. Seventeen-year-old Lake is able to dip in and out of the sim without losing herself, and when she rescues a boy named Taren, he insists on helping—but the sim, and some within it, has other ideas. The landscape is shot through with a pervasive sense of dread that follows Lake and Taren as they navigate the often dangerous corners of the Paracosm. However, the inevitable twist offers little surprise, and the narrative grows fuzzy toward the end. Still, Peevyhouse (The Echo Room, 2018, etc.) deftly explores the grief that Lake and Taren carry for their home planet and the loved ones they left behind, which inevitably shapes their virtual world. Most characters are white, but some diversity is suggested through names of secondary characters.
A not-quite-satisfying but still heady trip into a creepy, surreal virtual world. (Science fiction. 13-18)