Enjoyable SciFi brimming with conflict
Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam pick up right where Elusion left off in this sequel, Etherworld. Just as they are in the first book, the descriptions in this story are fantastic. The dark side of the virtual simulation, Elusion, becomes nearly haunting as the reader discovers more of the mysteries behind the technology. The contrast between the bright, carefree, and addictive side of Elusion versus the Etherworld, full of grayness and trapped people, creates a human powered, technological monster that will leave readers on the edge of their seats with worry over the many characters battling this system.
The romance between Regan and Josh never overpowers the story but offers plenty of swoon-worthy moments. Their dynamic is realistic, enjoyable, and topped off with the perfect amount of teen awkwardness when it comes to being together in front of Regan’s father.
While Regan is an easy character to like, I did find it challenging to relate to her. She has moments of great strength, but her character often feels static. I was never fully invested in her, and that made the story go a bit slow at times. Some of the secondary characters’ motivations are also unclear, leaving a few unanswered questions by the end. However, for readers who are after the conflict between reality and virtual perfection, they will certainly get this in Etherworld.
Etherworld unites the harsh realities of an imperfect, but real life with the addictive and even harsher consequences of virtual reality. It will make readers question, discuss, and even argue with themselves where the line between good and evil falls. Though this book has some flaws, I enjoyed it overall, and I am glad to know how everything ended.