The public relations business becomes an unlikely but effective villain in this techno-thriller.
High school senior Alix lives in privilege: designer labels, Caribbean vacations, elite private education. But when the mysterious activist group 2.0 targets her school, Alix learns that her father is their real objective, and soon Moses, 2.0’s seductive leader, makes her doubt everything she once believed. Despite choppy, repetitive and unabashedly didactic prose, clogged with infodumps detailing the history of corporate spin, multiaward-winning Bacigalupi cranks out a suspenseful, page-turning yarn. While any caper involving such a perfectly ethnically and sexually diverse team of teenagers, all blessed with genius-level skills, is scarcely plausible, it is nevertheless praiseworthy. Alix keeps the story grounded with her thoughtfulness and integrity. Her insta-romance with Moses—creepy origins notwithstanding—feels both authentic and intense, with a sensual physicality that pushes the book firmly into the crossover category. Even though some chapters are in his viewpoint, Moses remains a chameleon, elusive and opaque; although his philosophy of “trust no one” and “test everything” is hammered home repeatedly, readers devoid of their own superteams aren’t given many tools to follow through in real life.
Whether readers ultimately find it passionate, preachy, inspiring or quixotic depends upon their own levels of cynicism; nonetheless, it’s a book bound to provoke thought—and arguments.(Thriller. 15 & up)