As part of a corruption-exposing cyber network called the Forum, Mallory is far more at ease among the codes and hidden identities of her online world than she has ever been in the real one, but when other hackers start to go missing, she finds herself caught up in a web of secrets that could have repercussions far beyond both.
When anyone can be a name on a screen, how do you know who to trust?
I love how Laura Tisdall splits apart Mallory into two distinctive personas. In one, Mallory, just Mallory, is far from being in control of her life. Her father has PTSD, her brother is highly dependent on Mallory, and she herself has no direction for her life or patience for her family (especially for her father). In another identity, Echo Six is in control as an elite hacker. She is a moderator on a secret forum, and she takes down the evil, corrupted companies of the business world. She's good at what she does. Every challenge she faces? She easily solves. Echo Six is confident and assured and strong, a much different person than her alter ego. But the two identities begin to blend together once what's online seeps into reality.
The villain (an extremist with good intentions and bad connections) is very clever and deranged, and while I was reading this book, I most nearly missed this character's true nature before it was revealed. I'm slightly disappointed that the villain is a villain because Echo Six and that villain have some good chemistry. It's like Alina and the Darkling all over again (from RUIN AND RISING). But of course, it's also satisfying to see him get taken down.
The conflict is intriguing. In the process of uncovering the mystery of the missing elite hackers, Echo Six (Mallory) also gets great character development. The journey, the story goes very smoothly, and I find myself unable to put this book down. I swear to you all someone told me, "Seriously, stop reading. You need to eat." Yes, I did nearly forget about dinner. It's what happens when a reader loses track of time.
And the story leads to an ending. The bittersweet ending leaves me slightly unsettled (mostly because I'm like "no, not the villain. I like him"), but all the main loose ends are nicely wrapped up in this standalone.
Overall, ECHOES is a wonderful book that excites me. I can't help but keep turning the pages to its shocking conclusion. Mallory is tough heroine one can't help sympathize for, and the drama is never boring. Not for a single second.
Rating: Four out of Five