A newly adopted hacker becomes the target of a well-hidden stalker in this sequel.
It’s eight months after the graphic finale of Olivia Twisted (2013), and 17-year-old hacker Liv is now under the care of her wealthy grandfather Carlton Brownlow in Norfolk, Virginia. She’s trying to forget Jack, also known as Z, the fellow orphan and hacker she fell for while staying with the Monroe Street family. On the morning of Valentine’s Day, she wakes to find a white rose on her pillow and, later, a diamond bracelet in her car. She assumes her doting grandfather is responsible for both, but he denies it. Meanwhile, in Richmond, Jack lives with his hacking crew and their guardian, Nancy, at the Briarcreek House. Nancy institutes a no hacking rule so the teens can prepare for college and normal adult lives. Jack, however, has known hacking his whole life and refuses to trade ripping off banks and corporations for eventually working for them. When the Briarcreek emergency bank account is charged for expensive jewelry, Nancy suspects Jack. Hesitantly, Liv and Jack re-enter each other’s lives to find out who is stalking her and framing him. In the author’s second YA thriller, readers benefit once more from deft pacing and intricate plotting. The romance, which sees the protagonists drift fatefully back together, is emboldened by chapters that alternate between Jack’s and Liv’s perspectives. Lovely moments are frequent, like when he notices “the little line between her eyes creasing as she thinks...I remember kissing that crease.” A large cast—including Emerson, Liv’s best friend, and Frank Jones, a driver connected with the villainous Bill Sykes—helps Barnes (Paper or Plastic, 2015, etc.) sprinkle red herrings far and wide. Most impressive, though, is the growth these characters experience. Once bent on humiliating the rich father who abandoned him, Jack realizes that his “anger still boils under my skin, but it feels old, an ache that I can’t cure.” This likable pair of hackers deserves as many more outings as Barnes can conceive.
An emotionally mature YA thriller that gives hope to troubled teens.