Pandora’s just your average teen, glued to her cell phone and laptop, surfing Facebook and e-mailing with her friends, until the day her long-lost father sends her a link to a mysterious site featuring twelve photos of her as a child. Unable to contain her curiosity, Pandora enters the site, where she is prompted to play her favorite virtual-reality game, Zero Day. This unleashes a global computer virus that plunges the whole world into panic: suddenly, there is no Internet. No cell phones. No utilities, traffic lights, hospitals, law enforcement. Pandora teams up with handsome stepbrothers Eli and Theo to enter the virtual world of Zero Day. Simultaneously, she continues to follow the photographs from her childhood in an attempt to beat the game and track down her father, her one key to saving the world as we know it. Part The Matrix, part retelling of the Pandora myth, Doomed has something for gaming fans, dystopian fans, and romance fans alike.
So let's start with the story.
Maybe I wasn't thinking about the whole “global virus” thing enough, but I really wasn't expecting the government (and running from it) to be such a big aspect of the story. The synopsis lead me to believe the main storyline would be the game and the mystery surrounding it, but it ended up taking a backseat to the survival/on-the-run-from-the-government aspect.
Towards the end things just started to feel a little too convenient. Oh, this is an obstacle? Let's just take it out in a matter of a few paragraphs. I mean, yeah, it's fiction so there's going to be some coincidences, but some of them were just a bit too easy for me.
And then there's the characters.
Pandora was just so...whiny. Okay, okay, it's the end of the world and you unleashed it and your dad created it. I get it. I'd freak out too, but I hope I wouldn't continue to freak out. Over and over and over again. And there was the continuous “what's the point of any of this” when it was made quite obvious from the start. Play the game, save the world. So what does she do? Throw tantrums about how she doesn't want to play the game and how she hates her father. I know, I'm sounding a little heartless, but she really grated on my nerves.
And Theo and Eli were just kind of bleh. They have complete opposite personalities and yet I kept getting them confused. It probably didn't help that Pandora kept giving them the same kind of attention. And gosh, were they pissy about it. Whenever one of them so much as looked at her for too long the other would get all huffy and storm off. Now, you know I'm not a love triangle hater, but I really, really did not like this one. Plus, both boys felt a little shallow. I mean, they have backstories that seem to explain why they act the way they do, but they just didn't do it for me.
It felt like nothing was ever happening. Part of this is probably because I wanted to see more of the game aspect and it just wasn't happening. There was a lot of sitting around and a lot of driving and a lot of running and a lot of charged looks, and yet, I felt bored most of the time. I just couldn't get sucked into the story enough to care about the characters and story in more than a passive way. Even at the end I just thought to myself “oh, well that's nice.”
The Nutshell: Doomed just didn't work for me at all. Part of it is on me since I was expecting something different, but I also couldn't get into the story and characters. If you like stories about being on the run from the government and end of days craziness with a green undertone (or overtone, depending on how you wish to look at it) then you'll probably enjoy Doomed, but if you're in it for the video game aspect you should lower your expectations or skip it altogether.
Pandora, heroine of Doomed, may seem like a rebel with her haircut and multiple piercings but she is just an ordinary girl. In fact, she is usual young adult novel heroine. Neglected by her successful mother. Long ago abandoned by her father. In school Pandora is a loner, except for one best friend. If you love usual tropes of ya novels, you have a lot of things to look forward to while reading this novel.
Although Doomed by Tracy Deebs is advertised as dystopian, I would more label it as post-apocalyptic novel. Pandora opens a website link that her father sent her and, unintentionally uploads a worm/virus to an internet. The next thing she knows - all infrastructures are collapsing: telephone, electricity, internet. The only thing that works is an online game that Pandora sometimes plays. And in this game a new notification is flashing "Total annihilation in 10 days". Pandora has to look for clues everywhere while she is chased by creatures from Greek mythology (in game) and government agents & rebel gangs (real life).
Fortunately for Pandora, she will have help of two handsome boys - Theo and Eli. One dark the other one blond - to satisfy every taste. Yes, love triangle lovers rejoice, there will be a lot of tension and drama and of course Pandora will not pick one of them until the last moment. Because, first they have to beat the game and save the world...
Summary for Doomed by Tracy Deebs reminded me of combination of Little Brother by Cory Doctorow & Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Both are my favorite young adult books, so my expectations for Doomed were set very high. I expected treats for gaming fans and some great fight-against-the-government & save-the-world moments.
Unfortunately, whole story felt rather shallow with a lot of illogical things that kept bugging me: Why Pandora leaves her best friend that she knew whole life (who has a father computer expert) and instead runs away with two boys who she met that morning? Why does she immediately assumes that government agents are against her and does not try to cooperate with them? How come all characters keep miraculously going although they sustain so much injuries trough this book? If I could ignore this questions, my enjoyment of this book would be far greater because it's a quick action-packed read, but sadly most of the times Pandora's actions were not logical to me and I could not understand her.
I really connected with Pandora the main character and I loved being in her head. She was brave at the right times she kept her compassion and empathy towards others even when her own world was crumbling. She did just the right amount of freaking out especially for the circumstances.
The tension between Eli and Theo was also great. They are step brothers and also both interested on Pandora which made for some really tense and at times awkward and at others very swoon worthy moments and def. added just the right things at the right moment. They balanced each other out well and had each others backs at just the perfect times. That doesn't mean that they always saw eye to eye but it did create an awesome dynamic.
Though I could appreciate Eli's charm and his more open and flirty demeanor I always was more drawn to Theo. Whether his darker and broody side or the tension and mystery of their opening scene or his protector nature, I was always rooting for him.
I was always wanting to find out more and wondering what they would face next both in the real world and in the video game.
Speaking of, the writing of those scenes was flawless, it was like both they and I were really a part of the action in the video game and not just behind a screen.
It is so chilling too think about a world like this, plunged into disarray and unplugged from technology, and she did a great job of relating the panic, and the tough choices you would have to make in situations like those.
Bottom line: action packed, detailed story with a great plot and main character to adventure with.