Unplugged by Donna Freitas
Published: June 21st, 2016
Genres: Young Adult Science Fiction, Dystopian
Format: Physical copy
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Stars: 3 out of 5
Summary from Goodreads:
The first book in a provocative new series from acclaimed author Donna Freitas—Feed for a new generation.
Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.
Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.
But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.
In the tradition of M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Scott Westerfeld’sUglies, Unplugged kicks off a thrilling and timely sci-fi series for teens from an award-winning writer.
Unplugged’s premise relates directly to our modern day societies obsession with technology. In this world, much like ours, having the latest apps mark your place within society. Their lives are live completely virtually. No one in this world has ever seen the sun, ocean, trees, real food, etc…Instead they live in a world where you can download an App that can make you grow wings and fly, or receive supermodel looks. In fact there are a million superficial ways that you can transform yourself into something “better”. I’m not going to lie, I thought that the premise of the App World was pretty cool at first. While it was hard to imagine what it would be like to only experience life virtually I think that the author did an excellent job in creating this world. I felt that it was very vivid and that the reasoning behind it’s creation was realistic. The creators wanted a world where they were able to obtain a limitless amount of pleasure while these citizens never have to worry about injury, disease, or other ailments to which the human body is prone. I mean, couldn’t you see people in today’s society joining that world? I could.
Skye was an alright character. I didn’t necessarily think that she was special but she did have depth. Skye did everything that she could to return to her family and was willing to do what she needed to do in order to save people and to prevent a war from happening.
A lot of people feel like this books plot pace was slow but I disagree, I think that if we readers weren’t allowed the time that we were given to get to know the App World we wouldn’t have been able to understand to the fullest extent why Skye wanted to unplug. At first, the world seems interesting, exciting even, but as we progress into the story we see how little it differs from the real world. The rampant shallowness of this world set the tone for how things were run by it’s creators/goverment (hint: very poorly). A scene that stands out is when they are having a funeral and the citizens are more concerned about making it into a party or a political rally than paying respects to the grieving families. Even though I feel like a large part of character growth came from within these chapters in the App world, at times I couldn’t help but wish that we would get to the action sooner, so that’s why I’m taking a star off of my rating.
The romance itself was….not my favorite. I’m not going to spoil it, but I will say that I wasn’t a fan of the love interest. I couldn’t really understand why Sky was interested in a certain character, especially when the character was very deceptive and seemed to hold on tightly to the virtues of the App World but other than that it really wasn’t the focus of the story.
Overall, I am very excited to read the sequel. Unplugged had intrigue, betrayal, a little romance and a lot of plot twists. If you are looking for an intelligent new dystopian series that deviates from the genres usual tropes I would highly recommend Ungplugged.
About the Author:
Donna Freitas is the author of both fiction and nonfiction, and she lectures at universities across the United States on her work about college students, most recently at Colby, Pepperdine, Harvard, and Yale. Over the years, she has written for national newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and she’s currently a non-resident research associate at the Center for Religion and Society at Notre Dame. Donna has been a professor at Boston University in the Department of Religion and also at Hofstra University in their Honors College.
In 2008, Donna published Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America’s College Campuses with Oxford University Press, based on her national study about sex on campus. Her latest book is called The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost (Oxford, October 2016), and it is based on her research for a new study about social media and how it is effecting the ways we construct identity and sense of self, how we make meaning in the world, and navigate our relationships during college. In 2014 and 2015, Freitas conducted approximately 200 in-person interviews with college students at thirteen different colleges and universities, and collected nearly1000 online surveys about these subjects.
Donna is also the author of six novels for children and young adults, including The Survival Kit (FSG, 2011), named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults and the winner of the Bookstar Award in Switzerland, and This Gorgeous Game (FSG, 2010), also named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults, a winner of the CCBC Choice Award, and a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best winner. Her novel, The Possibilities of Sainthood (FSG, 2008), received five starred reviews and many accolades, including: an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read, Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers, and the Texas Lone Star Reading List. Donna has also published two middle grade companion novels with Scholastic, Gold Medal Summer (about a gymnast) and Gold Medal Winter (about an ice skater), which just won a CCBC Choice Award. In June, Unplugged the first novel in her sci-fi trilogy about two competing worlds, one real, one virtual, will be out in June from HarperTeen. She lives in Brooklyn.
3 Finished Copies of UNPLUGGED (US Only)