Genre: Apocalyptic (world will end if they don't solve the puzzles)
Cover Appeal: Science-fictiony, with numbers, an on button, and circuit board look. Eye-catching and great tag line: Beat the Game. Save the World.
"It's not my favorite shirt, but it is my least favorite shirt." Donna Meagle, Parks and Recreation (substitute book for shirt)
On her 17th birthday Pandora gets an email from her Dad, who she hasn't seen since she was 7. Because she's mad at her emotionally and physically unavailable mom, she opens the email even though her mom warned her never to communicate with her dad. Inside is a link to a website that has 12 pictures of her and her dad. She decides she wants to keep these pictures and uploads them to her Walgreens account, emphasis mine, so she can pick them up later. It is this uploading of the pictures that sets all other events in motion. They are actually a computer program that sets off the apocalypse.
The first thing that threw me was the uploading of the photos to a local Walgreens account. In a fakepoll of 800+ students at school and my own child and her friends, 0% of them upload photos to be printed. If, for some reason, they want a printout of their photos, they print them. At home. It's noted that she is glued to her cell-phone and laptop. Her mom is a rich, corporate lawyer. Yet, they don't have an awesomely sophisticated printer?
The second thing was the introduction of newcomers, Theo and Eli. These two "seriously hot" guys have "all but revolutionized Westlake's social scene" but somehow Pandora did not know they lived next door to her. But when the computer virus strikes, these two spring to Pandora's rescue even though she continually tells us she doesn't need it. Continually.
Third the gaming aspect. First, we have Pandora. In the ARC, that's both the MC's name and the game that she has to beat to save the world. The game appears to be called Zero Day now. CAn someone who's read the final verify? Anywho, throughout the virtual reality game, these Grecian monsters come to fight the trio. They have to fight the monsters while trying to overcome the obstacles that Pandora's dad have built into the game. If they can beat it, they are 1/2 way to saving the world. The other 1/2 consists of solving clues hidden in the pictures Mitchell, Pandora's dad, sent her. They have to find the places in the pictures because they lead to coordinates that are used to open the gateways in the game. Or vice versa.
What did I read? It was too improbable. I mean, she hadn't seen nor heard from her dad in seven years, yet she was able to remember so many small details about the pictures. Also, somehow the three of them are able to dodge every government agency, procure the necessary health care, food, and transportation despite the loss of all communication and banking systems and a nuclear meltdown. And there was NO internet. But her dad was the smartest of all because he figured out a way for certain people to still be able to play the game. Without internet. On the run. And there's time for a love triangle. And they are brothers. Ew. I don't care if they are stepbrothers. Ew.
This book is all tell. All action. One tragedy followed by the next. All short sentences and quick hits. None of the characters change or grow. And I didn't care. I couldn't connect with any of them and just wanted to finish this one. Some other people did like it. - check out the Doomed Goodreads reviews.
This review is from an ARC received on Netgalley. Details may have changed before publication.