Title: Unplugged (The Wired, #1)
Author: Donna Freitas
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2016
Genre: YA Dystopian, YA Science Fiction
This book was like Scott Westerfeld’s Unglies on steroids. And involving virtual worlds, of course. But definitely reminded me of Westerfeld, which is a good thing.
Skyler has been in the App World for as long as she can remember: as a Single, she has her foster family and her best friend Inara to help her without the aid of her real family. Her mother and sister are back in the real world, acting as Keepers to the bodies that house the virtual people. At seventeen, Skyler will unplug for Service, becoming a Keeper for awhile and being able to see her family again. But an announcement comes through that shocks Skyler and thrills most everyone else: Service has been suspended indefinitely and no one will be able to leave or enter the virtual world. A war in the real world has threatened App World users, and it is safer to stay plugged in. Besides, a Cure is coming soon, and eventually no one will ever even need their bodies…they’ll remain immortal in the App World, free of disease and death.
As people celebrate in the streets, Skyler is crushed: though she loves Inara and enjoys the freedom of downloading gaming and flying apps, she misses her family. Have they forgotten about her? Are they waiting for her to wake up?
Luckily, Skyler gets a message no one else can know about: she’s been invited to unplug somehow, but she can’t tell anyone. Turns out Minister Holt of the App World would like his son Rain to come back, as he is stuck in the Real World doing his Service. Skyler and two others, along with Lucy Mills, the most popular and watched celebrity, are going to bring Rain Holt back. And maybe, just maybe, Skyler can see her family.
But nothing prepares Skyler for what she sees when she unplugs…
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
This is a book I highly recommend. Though I am tired of the stories that always portray the rich to be evil, this book does tout the dangers of constant technology. It does have a sequel, and I plan to read it. I think this is an excellent example of dystopian literature that teaches a lesson and can be used as an anchor text. Ugliest is another book that shares the dangers of a society dependent on something (beauty in that case), and it has already been used in classrooms. I would love to share this one with students!
Surprisingly, Lexile.com doesn’t have this book, though it’s published by HarperTeen. Puzzling. Well, you can trust me to tell you that I would say 13 and up would be an appropriate age range. There is nothing lurid or only for older YA readers, and I would feel confident saying it could work for middle school readers, too.
★★★★★! I was riveted every moment. The book gives enough background to follow the plot and understand the story world, and Skyler is a well-developed character. The book didn’t race, didn’t lag…it always left me guessing and wondering what would happen next. The pages flew by, and I was grateful I still had more to read. The book even includes a snippet of the sequel, and I am not going to spoil anything by naming the title or giving away what happens! I am waiting for the moment there’s a galley available for the sequel and I’m going to beg for it!
I recommend to all lovers of science fiction and dystopian literature. At first, the world seems a little ridiculous…I’ll warn you…but stay patient and keep reading…it pays off.
Happy Saturday and happy reading!