Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Dangerously Placed by Nansi Kunze
Strangemore Rating: 4 Stars
Reality is individual. We all have different tools with which to perceive it.
The Aussies have done it again! Aussie author Nansi Kunze has created a thrilling virtual world within one thriller of a book.
I don't know what it is about virtual reality that gets my motor running. The world of gaming calls to me like a bird feeder calls to a squirrel. Then it spins me round and round until I'm too dizzy to walk straight and all I can think about is how long until I can hop back on.
You've heard of the Holodeck, right? If not, do yourself a favor and go watch some Star Trek: The Next Generation. It also has a nice piece of android named Data. Rawr.
The key technology featured in this book is basically the predecessor to something like The Holodeck or The Matrix. The tech is also close to what could potentially be achieved in our lifetimes, making it all the more intriguing.
Dangerously Placed centers around a young girl named Alex, who is beginning her work experience at a company called Simulcorp. But this isn't your everyday paper pushing office. It's all virtual. Using something called a Virk suit in a specially designed Virk Room, people from all over the world can sign in and meet up in a virtual work environment.
Things are going well until... dun, dun, dun... someone gets murdered. Of course, in true young adult style, our main character tasks herself with discovering the identity of the killer. It's an especially important task, considering she is one the main suspects.
The World-building and Pacing
When I first started, it reminded me of a cartoonish cross between Nancy Drew and The Matrix. I don't know why, but I imagined this book in CGI. It would make an amazing Pixar film, but it would, of course, need a much cheesier name. Something like... The Virkuals!
I give this an A++ for concept and I am a concept kind of girl. In fact, if the book has a stellar premise involving speculative fiction, I am usually a pretty happy campy-camper. Of course characterization is important as well, and I quite enjoyed the characters in Dangerously Placed, in spite of their Disney Channel Original tendencies (which the cheeseball monster inside of me happens to love). Though the science may not have been perfect, it was the most believable young adult sci-fi I have read in quite some time.
It was fast and thrilling with a hint of scandal. It had about as many twists as an episode of Lost... but without the side-character eating smoke monster. There may or may not be a dragon, though!
The evolution of the romantic storyline was unforeseen and unexpected, as well as very, very welcome. You aren't bombarded with instalove right from the beginning, which is a rare find in the current YA market. The relationship developed sincerely and unfolded realistically, or as realistically as possible considering the preposterous situation these teens find themselves in.
I'm giving this one high marks for keeping me thoroughly involved and addicted throughout. It reads a bit younger than I typically gravitate toward, although I think this could open it up to a wider audience. It was entertaining none the less.
Nansi is a fresh science fiction voice in the world of YA. I will definitely be on the lookout for more titles from her!