Friday, July 3, 2015

The Leveller by Julia Durango [SPOILER FREE REVIEW]

Hey, y'all! I recently read The Leveller by Julia Durango, and despite having a lot of feelings about the book, I didn't want to devote an entire video to reviewing it. So, I decided to do a full written review on here instead. Despite the fact that I'm reviewing it quite soon after its 6/23 release date, I did NOT receive this for review, it's a book I purchased for myself.

Nixy Bauer is a leveller, a pseudo bounty hunter inside of the virtual reality game called MEEP. Because MEEP is a fairly new technology, the government limits how much time people can spend within it per day. When a kid is spending too much time in MEEP, their parents call on Nixy to pull them out, and she's known for being able to pull kids out of MEEP extremely efficiently.

One day, however, she gets a job from the game's creator. His son, Wyn, has blocked himself into MEEP and has left behind a suicide note. It's now Nixy's job to go in after him and retrieve him. However, when Nixy reaches Wyn, she discovers that things are not quite as they seem, because he reveals that he has actually been trapped inside MEEP. Nixy and Wyn must fight their way out if they ever want to get back to the real world.

That concept sounds really intriguing, right? Doesn't it give you Ready Player One vibes? I'll be honest, that's the biggest reason that I picked this up. I've been in the mood to re-read Ready Player One for quite a while, but can't really justify the re-read when I have a reading challenge going on. And I hoped that this would at least be a decent stand-in for Ready Player One. Unfortunately, though, this was just overall disappointing.

My first major problem with the book was the writing. This may sound strange, but I don't typically notice how good or bad the writing is unless I really enjoy it or really dislike it. And in this case, I really disliked it. Everything came across as very juvenile and sometimes reminded me of the way that I worded things when attempting to write stories at the age of 13. Nixy and Wyn were supposed to be 16, but they often spoke and acted like 13 year olds. On top of this, there were some words that were just extremely over-used. Specifically, the word 'truly.' It got to the point where I was going to throw the book if a character said 'truly' ONE. MORE. TIME.

Unfortunately, the problems don't stop there. Overall, I didn't find the plot that intriguing. In fact, it was only vaguely there. After Nixy got into MEEP to rescue Wyn, nothing really happened until the very end, apart from some instalove and some aimless wandering around. Speaking of which, the instalove in this book was really painful and cringe-worthy for me. I don't know how else to describe it except that I was physically cringing at some of the dialogue between Nixy and Wyn within approximately 10 minutes of meeting each other.

I also kind of expected some of the things that I think were supposed to be a surprise. This is generally to be expected, because I've mentioned many times that I can usually guess twists. Durango tried to surprise the reader with the villain reveal, but the foreshadowing was too heavy pretty early on, and she practically blatantly revealed it a while before the official reveal.

However, despite the many problems I had with it, I didn't hate it. I do see potential in the story and the world based on the way that the story ended. I think it will be really interesting to see the real-world implications of the things that happened within the game. I'm assuming that this will be a trilogy (because series apparently just means trilogy in YA anymore), and I hope that the next two books are a little longer and better written so that we can dive a little deeper into this game.

I found it very hard to come up with a rating for this one. Based just on my criticisms alone, it would seem that this book should get an abysmal rating. But for some reason, I somewhat enjoyed it. I would say that my dislike of the book didn't outweigh my like of the book. There's something oddly intriguing and charming about it, and enough loose threads left that I'm curious about what will happen next. I think I would have given this a slightly lower rating if not for the potential that I see in this series. Durango definitely has room to delve deeper into some of the issues that were raised very late on in this first installment, and I hope for everyone's sake that she does, or else the rest of the series will be as bland as this book was.

In the end, I gave The Leveller 6 stars out of 10. I think I would've gone with a 5.5 if not for the potential that I see, but I can only hope that Durango takes this series in a slightly better direction than she took this first book.

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