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Bluescreen (Mirador) Hardcover – February 16, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This fast-paced futuristic science-fiction cyber-thriller about virtual reality gone wrong is a compulsive read, especially for gamers. In 2050, Los Angeles is one of the last great centers of business left in the United States, filled with autocabs, rolling lounges, maglev trains, and hypertubes bringing commuters in from all over the country. Nearly everyone has a djinni, a smart device implanted into their brains. One blink enables a person to access email, the Internet, or video feeds, and adware is constant. Teens spend nearly 24 hours a day online plugged into it; much of that time is spent playing virtual reality games. Mari Carmeseca and her friends Sahara, Anja, Jaya, and Fang are all skilled virtual gamers. Mari is also a talented hacker. She and her family live in El Mirador, a midsize barrio where her family runs a Mexican restaurant. Business owners pay gang lord Don Francisco Maldonado's enforcers to keep the peace. After rich girl Anja has a bad reaction to Bluescreen, a digital drug that triggers a huge sensory buzz, Mari and gorgeous drug dealer Saif agree to work together to try to get it off the streets. In attempting to do so, they soon find themselves involved in a more dangerous conspiracy than they ever imagined. This fascinatingly speculative tale, first in a series, full of diverse characters, owes much to M.T. Anderson's Feed, and it's just as exciting and innovative. VERDICT Readers won't be able to put this sci-fi thriller down.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton
“Filled with suspense and twists and unforgettable characters. This book is just plain awesome.” (James Dashner, bestselling author of The Maze Runner)
“This fascinatingly speculative tale, first in a series, full of diverse characters, owes much to M.T. Anderson’s Feed, and it’s just as exciting and innovative. Readers won’t be able to put this sci-fi thriller down.” (SLJ (starred review))
“Wells’ first in a new science-fiction series is an action-packed, twisty thriller mystery set in an all-too-believable future. Fans of futuristic dystopias will be clamoring for more adventures in Mirador.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“The ethnically diverse cast features several strong, resourceful women, while Marisa’s struggles with her artificial arm add another layer to the story, helping it stand out as more than a typical SF adventure. It’s an engaging start to Wells’s Mirador series.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Dan Wells is a master of both suspense and sheer, bombastic fun. I loved Bluescreen. Do yourself a favor and start reading this right now.” (Brandon Sanderson, bestselling author of Steelheart)
Top customer reviews
Aside from the diverse cast, Wells does a great job at world building. Mirador is a barrio in LA, and we get a raw and visceral look at how the world has changed in the future. In particular, the book examines the subject of privacy. It is exceedingly common now for everyone to have a device called a "djinni" implanted into their brain. This device works as a combo cell phone, computer, wallet, gps, house key, etc. Stores scan djinnis as you walk by and display advertising just for you on their windows. Marisa's house checks her in as soon as she walks in the door and alerts her family that she's home. Privacy as we know it is virtually gone.
But none of that bothers Marisa until a new drug surfaces in her area, the titular "bluescreen." Much like the bluescreen of death, it crashes your system when plugged into your djinni via a port at the base of your skull. The user experiences "safe, drug free" euphoria for ten minutes while their djinni deals with the crash. But Marisa and her friends discover that when their systems crash, they're open to infection... and it's exceedingly hard to run from danger when your djinni is online and you're open to the world.
Wells handles the various subplots, relationships, character arcs and mysteries very well in this book. It's fast-paced, and there's quite a bit going on, but he keeps it all tightly woven, and you just want to keep reading. Some savvy readers who like trying to predict reveals & who know what to look for may figure out some mysteries & reveals in advance, but that didn't detract at all for me because it was just so much reading it and watching how Wells pulls it all together.
I loved following Marisa's journey -- from somewhat shallow and selfish, to realizing she wants to take a stand against the wrongs in her world.
(I also had no problem with the fact that she describes her outfits a couple times, as one reviewer complained about. Because, really -- of COURSE she's going to think about looking good when she's going out to a club or meeting up with a guy she's attracted to. Especially in the world Wells creates for these characters, it would ring false if she didn't.)
And the rest of the cast! I loved the range of personalities and humor and the fact they were such good friends despite their different interests. We start by meeting them in their gaming world -- but as the real world adventure heats up, we get to see them work together as a team, using the same skills and personality quirks that make them effective together in the game.
I also loved the diversity of the cast. One reviewer was like, "Diversity? So what? It has nothing at all to do with anything." (I paraphrase. Kind of.) But I was thinking, "How nice to have a diverse cast without the characters having to *justify* why they're not white. They can just BE diverse." And if it really *needed* to be doing something -- the diversity of the cast illustrates how technology can connect people all over the world, regardless of backgrounds. As someone who still has friends around the world from old, high school RPG days, I loved this addition.
Can't wait to dive into the next one (Ones and Zeroes, Mirador Book 2)!
While I absolutely love the worldbuilding -- the tech, the city, the political/economic intrigue -- honestly, my favorite part about Bluescreen is the realness of Marissa's family, particularly her relationships with her father, her older brother Chuy, and her younger sister Pati. Her Dad is tough, but a bit absent. The technology of the djinnis has let families feel like they are more connected than they are while allowing teens, like Marissa, lie much more easily (if they have some technical knowledge). He's also busy working hard to keep their family afloat. I get the sense that he turns a bit of a blind eye to Marissa's running around because he doesn't want a repeat of Chuy, and if he ignores it, he doesn't have to address it. Of course, everything's getting turned topsy-turvy in Marissa's world, and he can't ignore it forever.
I'm really hoping (and expecting) for more Chuy in future books, as he represents a conflict at the core of Marissa's soul -- when does doing what is right mean doing something that is wrong? I'd also love to see more of the Cherry Dogs in action in VR.
One of my favorite books over the last year.