ARC Review: The Leveller by Julia Durango

The LevellerTitle: The Leveller

Author: Julia Durango

Series: The Leveller #1

Release Date: June 23, 2015

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: E-Galley from Edelweiss

I was provided with a free e-galley of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. This in no way affects the honesty of my review.

Love games? Virtual reality? Awesome female protagonists? Krakens? THIS BOOK HAS ALL OF THESE THINGS. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual-reality gaming world—and she’s frequently hired by irritated parents to pull kids out of the mazelike MEEP universe.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

1. While reminiscent of Ready Player One, this was a story all its own.

Nixy (um, okay awesome name) is a leveller. She is paid by parents to trick their kids into leaving the virtual reality called the MEEP. Since it is slightly dangerous to remove the device which puts them into the MEEP, they have to leave willingly, which is where Nixy comes in. At first, it was too similar to Ready Player One, which scared me, but I checked reviews and saw it definitely isn’t trying to step on Cline’s toes. Those reviews are correct, let me tell you. The Leveller is so unique, while still having the setting of virtual reality and featuring some hardcore gamers. This was so interesting and I was hooked from the first sentence.

2. It’s not often you see a book about video games or virtual reality where you have an awesome female protagonist who can take care of herself, thank you very much.

This book centered almost completely in the MEEP. While most everyone in the world is addicted to virtual reality, you usually only see Nixy levelling boys. Which, haha. Nixy is chosen to save the MEEP creator’s son, Wyn. It seems that he has trapped himself inside the MEEP with an apparent suicide note. None of the creator’s hardcore programmers can get through the maze to get to him, so he chooses Nixy. Of COURSE she gets through because she is AWESOME. Shouty caps, god, sorry. She doesn’t depend on dudes to do her work and has built a successful (albeit illegal) virtual reality business. There is a lot of flack for female gamers in real life. They’re seen as not good enough and a lot of male players don’t want to play with them as soon as they find out they’re female – regardless of how they play. I get really carried away with this subject, so just know how excited Nixy made me. She needs NO man!

3. The romance bothered me. It bothered me so much that I took away a star.

So Wyn is super hot, even when he’s comatose in the real world. When Nixy finds him, she gets all weak in the knees and talks about his “chocolate eyes” and his smile. I found this extremely irritating because she was so bad ass up to that point that I was kind of disappointed in her feelings towards Wyn. She really did turn into the weak kneed, quintessential “girl” trope in most YA books. Other than this, though, she continued to be brave and smart and insanely funny. This was really my only gripe.

4. You HAVE to love a book that not only builds two worlds, but follows the rules for each one.

I have a hard time suspending belief when it comes to virtual reality unless it’s done REALLY well. And this was done REALLY well. All of the rules were followed and I honestly felt like I was playing a game rather than reading a book. The gamers have to get a piercing in order to get into the MEEP. While Wyn was comatose, there were a lot of rules explained to questions I would have asked (the characters asked them, yay). And, it all made sense, which is GLORIOUS. Oh, bless you for sticking with me through all of these shouty caps, I’m just so excited. Long story short, the MEEP totally sounds like my kind of place.

OVERALL 4 STARS! I only took a star away because of the romance. It changed Nixy for a little bit and that bothered me since she is so strong and smart and independent. One of my favorite parts of this book was the gamer lingo. At one point, Nixy’s dad says something about “filthy casuals” and I almost stopped breathing I was laughing so hard. This was a quick, insanely fun read. If you love video games – honestly, if you love Ready Player One – this is a great read for you! This book releases on June 23, 2015 so make sure to click the link below to pre-order!

Click to Pre-Order!

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2 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Leveller by Julia Durango

  1. missprint says:

    This one sounds really interesting! And your review reminds me that I need to think about reading Ready Player One (I know!).

    If you want more virtual reality type books I’d suggest Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde and the other books in her Rasmussen series–they skew a little more toward middle grade but I have a feeling you’ll like them a lot.

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