A group of teens and a dog enter a virtual world.
White teen Singer is mourning her parents’ decision to give away their injured golden retriever, Dublin, whose days of competing with them in extreme sports are over. Late one night Singer goes to the salvage yard to (successfully) rescue Dublin only to get into an accident that lands her in the hands of Collusia, a mysterious company developing state-of-the-art virtual-reality tech. After some technical jargon and strenuous exposition, Singer goes into the TimeTilter, a virtual space that bends time for the user via a superzeitgeber—a chemical that effectively expands the experience of time for the body’s senses. Other teens show up in the TimeTilter, and Collusia is eventually revealed to be not as innocent as it seems. The heady sci-fi weirdness of the novel is sunk by two factors: dull characters and poor plotting. It’s obvious from the jump that Collusia isn’t on the level, but readers have to wait for the characters to catch up to those intuitions. These characters are startlingly indistinct, all speaking in similar cadence and blending together. The author offers different points of view every few chapters, and only the virtual setting differentiates the perspectives. It all leads to a been-there-done-that climax, one that many sci-fi fans have read in many much more involving works.
A plodding exploration of standard sci-fi tomfoolery. (Science fiction. 12-16)