By Tracy Deebs
Published 2013 by Walker Childrens
Despite her unusual name, Pandora is pretty much a typical teenager. That all changes on her 17th birthday, when the father she has not heard from in many years emails her and changes the world. Because, unknown to Pandora, he has used her to unleash a computer virus on the world that will shut down everything - communications, electricity, water, everything. And it's up to Pandora to figure out how to undo her father's heinous act.
All right, so. I really wanted to like this book. Admittedly, I'm not much of a gamer and I'm pretty borderline about sci-fi (sometimes I love it, sometimes I don't), but the premise of this book sounded pretty unique. I liked the added layer of the absent father who uses his daughter's curiosity to trigger the global disaster he's set up. However, nothing about this book was well-executed. I rarely ever quote in my reviews but this line shows up at the end and it should give you an idea of what we're dealing with: "the hair that should have tipped me off to who he really was long ago." Okay, I don't have my copy in front of me at the moment so I might be paraphrasing a bit, but REALLY? Your hair is the key to your personality? Fascinating. Beyond the poor prose (it's not really always that bad but it sure isn't anything fancy), there are the ridiculous characters. Pandora - ugh. I just, I can't even. She is pretty lackluster and unremarkable, except for her incredibly obnoxious fear of the dark and rabid insecurity. I think her phobia is supposed to make me feel bad for her or relate to her better, but I found the idea of it so ridiculous that it didn't work that way for me. She is super insecure about everything - often blaming herself for the terrible thing her father has done. She spends a lot of time worrying about her feelings for the two boys she's with instead of focusing on how to stop the terror. And the boys, Eli and Theo - even more ridiculousness. They are stepbrothers so obviously they don't really get along/are in hyper competition with each other about everything, including, of course, Pandora. They are both apparently mentally unstable, which seems to make them excellent companions on this journey to save the world. They seem to have an infinite store of knowledge and skills, each new one making itself apparent at the exact moment that they need that particular info/skill to complete another part of their quest. Neither boy's character is developed much beyond the mental instability and set of skills, so not much more to say there. The game itself is not as central to the plot as one would assume from reading the blurb - they spend maybe 50 pages total playing the virtual game and the rest of the 400+ pages chasing around Pandora's father in the real world. And it becomes clear pretty early on what Pandora's father's agenda was for creating this virus and unleashing it - but then we are beaten over the head with this agenda for the rest of the book. It's tedious and annoying. Overall, this book fails more than it succeeds.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital review copy, provided via Netgalley.