Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (February 16, 2016)
Buy your copy here
“Bluescreen is a stunning deluge of imagination, filled with suspense and twists and unforgettable characters. This book is just plain awesome.”
—James Dashner, bestselling author of The Maze Runner
“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
Best-selling Wells’ latest kicks off a futuristic new series set in 2050 Los Angeles, in which cars run on autopilot, inequality is off the charts, and pretty much everyone has a djinni—a smart device that plugs right into your head. Marisa Canesca is a teenage coder with a robotic arm who pretty much lives for virtual reality games, where she connects with friends around the globe. But when one of her local friends, the wealthy Anja, gets her hands on Bluescreen, a new drug that plugs into the djinni, Marisa’s world is upended. With her hacking prowess, Marisa discovers that not only is Bluescreen an incredibly powerful drug, it’s also turning its users into puppets. But for whom, and to what effect? Wells’ thrilling tale makes great use of its setting, and its diverse cast of characters is well suited for the futuristic L.A. demographic. Though it might hold special appeal for gamers, Wells’ tale is a great fit for readers who fancy noir thrillers and realistically flawed characters.
In the future, where neural implants connect to an immersive virtual world, a trendy new digital drug called Bluescreen is putting the minds of users at risk of external control and permanent brain-crash. When the drug finds its way into the hands of her friends and younger siblings, seventeen-year-old semi-pro gamer and elite hacker Marisa Carnesca decides to stop the drug at its source. With the help from an eclectic team that includes fellow gamers, offline friends, former enemies, and a suave former drug dealer, Mari tracks the drug across the richest and poorest parts of Los Angeles, but her quest soon puts her in the crosshairs of drug gangs, extortion mafias, and super-wealthy tech-companies execs alike. Meanwhile a shad- owy online character begins offering his assistance, but at a price. This gripping cyberpunk thriller reads like an homage to Neal Stephenson’s genre-defining Snow Crash, but Wells mixes well-extrapolated world building and nuanced storytelling into something convincingly fresh and original. The plot builds slowly, adding layers of tension with bursts of adrenaline-fueled action. The narration is likewise thematically strong, raising awareness of economic and social issues without being preachy. Most notable, though, is the richly diverse cast, including and international crew of tech-savvy girlfriends and a Latino female narrator with a prosthetic arm and an abundance of talent and attitude. A few unresolved mysteries and lingering questions about Mari’s online ally/nemesis set up planned sequels, which should thrill readers who enjoy intense, intelligent cyber-fare like Anderson’s Feed (BCCB 11/02) and Doctorow’s Little Brother (BCCB 11/08).
–Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books