Review Detail

3.3 1
Young Adult Fiction 6494
Virtual Reality Nightmare
Overall rating
Writing Style
Unplugged, by Donna Freitas, is the latest in YA Sci-Fi. The story is set after a time when technology was King, so much so that people decided they would rather live in a virtual world than in the real one. The novel begins when this experiment has already proven successful and the Prime Minister of the virtual world, Jonathan Holt, closes travel between the two places, trapping Skylar Cruz and separating her from her family forever. This chilling premise relates directly to our lives today and our obsession with cellphones, computers, video games, and other material belongings; in that sense, it serves as a stark warning to us to be mindful of the path toward which we are headed.

The premise of Unplugged is very creative in that the author uses familiar ideas such as apps and downloading updates to make the virtual world relatable. In fact, though this artificial land is horrifying, Freitas does a great job at demonstrating how it could be appealing. For instance, citizens in this alternate reality never have to waste time cooking food, because they can download it. They also are all set to share a similar appearance that has been constructed based on what most find attractive. In other words, negative body image is not a huge issue here. However, if virtual people want to enhance their looks, they can simply download a supermodel app. With money, anything is possible and easy in virtual land. More than that, these citizens never have to worry about injury, disease, or other ailments to which the human body is prone.

With that being said, I am curious to know more about how the App World works. For instance, Skylar talks about breathing, which brings up the question of its necessity. For instance, do the virtual humans actually have to breathe? Or is that just a part of their code to make them as close to real humans as possible? There are many small points such as this that are not clarified, which definitely leaves me wanting. However, Unplugged is the first book in a series and I would assume more will be uncovered and explained in the sequel.

When considering the writing specifically, the use of past tense feels quite limiting. It seems to dampen the urgency and sometimes gets in the way of the story’s flow. Yet, I do enjoy the novel’s structure with it being split into multiple parts, giving a beginning, middle, and end to each element Skylar faces. I also like the chapter titles, which really set the tone for what is to follow, and the long quotation from the philosopher René Descartes after the dedication page, which introduces the theme of the novel.

Overall, Unplugged is an incredibly original dystopia that is both eerie and frightening, primarily due to the plausible evolution of society and Freitas relatable protagonist, Skylar Cruz, the only seeming voice of reason. It will be exciting to see where the series goes next.

Good Points
Original and fresh dystopian setting.
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