I hated the screaming. Their screaming was my screaming. The first thing I remembered after waking up as a Reboot was a shrill yell bouncing off the walls and ringing in my ears. I had thought, What idiot is making that noise?
It was me. Me, shrieking like a crack addict two days out from a fix.
Rather embarrassing. I’d always prided myself on being the quiet stoic one in every situation. The one standing there calmly while the adults lost it.
But at the age of twelve, when I woke up in the Dead Room of the hospital 178 minutes after taking three bullets to the chest, I screamed.
In the ruins of what used to be Texas, humanity has been ravaged by an unforgiving respiratory virus. KDH has decimated the population and the survivors have separated themselves into rich cities and poor slums, the healthy barricading themselves against the sick, but to little avail. In control is HARC, the Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation, which struggles to minimize subsequent outbreaks of KDH by removing and quarantining the sick, and protecting humanity’s future.
Most importantly, HARC is also charged with training and controlling Reboots.
You see, the KDH virus didn’t just kill off a whole bunch of people—it also meant that some of the infected would rise from the dead. Faster. Stronger. Possessing incredible, near invincible healing powers. Each reboot is classified by the time it takes to rise from dead back to (some semblance of) life: The longer it takes one to rise from death, the stronger the reboot. While almost all reboots are children and teens, most of them fall into the “under 60” (minutes) category all the way up to the low 100s. Wren—petite, blonde Wren—is known simply by her number: 178.
The best soldier HARC has in its arsenal, Wren is better, stronger and faster than any other reboot (or pitiful human). When a wave of new recruits comes in, though, instead of automatically picking the highest numbered reboot to train, Wren pairs herself with Callum, a mere 22 (practically human). Callum is unlike any of the other reboots: He questions things, he smiles, he jokes. And when the Under 60s—including Wren’s roommate (and best friend) Ever—start acting increasingly violent and unpredictably, Wren knows that HARC is hiding something. For the first time since rebooting, Wren starts to question those around her—her own existence, and those of her fellow reboots, depend on it.
Today is the official start of summer, which means beach, sun and a whole bunch of blockbuster films—and if there was ever a blockbuster equivalent of a book, it is Reboot. The debut novel from Amy Tintera, Reboot hits all of the requisite Speculative Fiction sweet spots: the badass heroine; the soul-searching personal hero’s arc (what it means to be human versus a reboot) following an untimely death; the myriad explosions and copious amounts of blood and violence; the evil corporation behind it all; the sweet (if completely transparent) romance. Reboot embodies all of these tropes and manages to pull off a highly entertaining Jerry Bruckheimer-esque scope of action, making this a devour-it-in-a-single-sitting read.
While depth and nuance are completely out of the picture, the one thing that intrigues me about Reboot and sets it apart—in a good way—from similar dystopian YA reads is the heart of its heroine, Wren/178. I like that she begins the book a very different character and grows over the course of the novel. More than that, I appreciate her coolly evaluating narrative and the gradual realization over the course of her arc that she actually has feelings, not just the love story that develops between her and Callum, but the realization that she has an honest-to-goodness best friend in Ever (in my opinion, the Ever-Wren relationship is the true catalyst for the novel).
Of course, while there are good things, there are simultaneously huge suspension of disbelief issues that abound in this particular novel. For instance, how exactly does HARC know the exact minute count it takes for someone to die and then become a reboot (especially as many of these subjects are scattered, hidden or otherwise unknown to HARC)? If the reboots aren’t “human” and are dead, why are they still breathing, bleeding and growing? Wren, for example, is 12 when she reboots, but she’s since grown into a young woman and is not a rotting zombie corpse or locked in a forever 12-year-old body.
I have a feeling, though, that HARC is behind all of the misinformation, and that these questions will be answered in Book 2. I’ll certainly be around to see what happens next.
In Book Smugglerish, a bone-snappingly satisfying 6.5 out of 10.