Nirvana (J.R. Stewart)


Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized – even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.

Nirvana is a fast-paced, page-turning young adult novel combining elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance. Part of a trilogy, this book introduces readers to a young woman who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so.

First of all I want to make sure you know that I read the revised version of this ARC. If you received this ARC, you know that there are 2 versions of it, because the author took into account the negative reviews he got after the first version was distributed and revised his book. I’m assuming that was an excellent move, because the ratings now are slightly better than before. From the original version, I only managed to read the first part of the prologue, before wanting to quit it… Also, another note, I DID NOT REQUEST THIS BOOK, it was an automatic approval.

Now, how to I even start with this review? From my rating you’re probably guessing that I didn’t enjoy it, and you’re right, I did not. I was never as confused while reading a book in my life, as I was with Nirvana. But let’s take it one step at a time, shall we?!

(I apologise before hand for the length of this review and mild SPOILERS that might slip the cracks.)

I’m starting with the writing. The first part of the book, like the first 25%, is a buckload of info dumping, which might have been ok if it made any sense at all. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, and the writing doesn’t help – it goes from extremely detailed elements, to simple and short phrases that don’t convey everything you need to know. It’s inconsistent. It’s a fast read though, I’ll give it that. Also, we get multiple POVs here – I like multiple POVs! – however, we go from 1st person in Kenders’ POV, to 3rd person with everyone else… it was weird and it didn’t work for me.

About the characters… I didn’t like any of them! Wow, how the hell is that possible right? I mean, not even one? NOPE! The characters are one dimensional at best, we have the kick ass female heroin, the super smart boy she’s in love with, the super rich guy who’s in love with her, the hot best friend, the dejected enemy, the big military guy and the rich and fat baddie. And that’s it. I dare you to describe these characters any other way. There is absolutely zero character development throughout this book, and the characters are not even well characterized to begin with.

The plot is nonsensical. I feel so bad writing this, sorry, really, but this is how I felt. I thought this book would have a lot of Virtual Reality incorporated into it, and I thought its role would be a lot bigger that it actually was. In fact, it factored just in a way that Kenders would go there to get clues from Andrew and that was it. I assume that it might factor in more in the sequel, given the Red Door project and all, but ughhhh! Also, I have to ask, WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS? Usually when you have a “chosen one” – for whatever reason – there’s a purpose. There isn’t one here. SPOILERS!!! Ok, so Kenders gets clues from Andrew, people die, she gets everything he asks her, and then we find out that almost everyone she worked against actually knew what she was doing and were helping her. So, Andrew trusted a lot of people, but didn’t trust anyone but her?!

And that ending… I’m sorry, it was a WTF moment for me, because I felt that we go back to the beginning again, was it just to make sure we would turn into the sequel? In the end of the day the goal of the bad guys was to control the world, so they created a species extinction to do that? Ok… oh the bees…

I’m not even mentioning how the World Building was severely lacking…

Now, I have a LOT of problems with this book. A LOT A LOT! I was fucking confused most of the time I was reading, and I felt that my doubts were never really answered. So, shall we dive into that?

The main problem I had with it was the age of the main character. I honestly felt that this plot was written for a MC in her mid 20’s and then someone thought it would be better to make her 17, so this could be considered a Young Adult novel. In no way, shape or form is Kenders character adequate for a 17 yo girl. She’s an animal rights activist, super famous punk star, college graduate, and working in Nirvana for a “while”… what am I missing here?

This young age of our MC brings all kinds of weird problems into the plot. First of, the timeline is way too confusing. This girl is 17 yo, but she’s already graduated college a while ago and has been living with her fiancé for more than one year – I’m guessing a lot more if they have cute little Easter traditions and if Andrew had built a door for their dog YEARS AGO. Now, how old is this elusive fiancé, right? I was wondering that throughout most of the novel! Andrew is the lead scientist in the Nirvana project, he graduated, he had broken up with a girlfriend 5 years before while already being courted to work at HEXAGON. And then Kenders says he’s 25. OK, he’s 25!!! But she just turned 17 – it’s the first chapter people! And then it gets weird: they made love for the first time after they graduated… and they were already living together when she turned 16…

Now, I’m not a prude or anything, heck, I don’t really give a damn about age. I don’t think it’s weird to have such a huge age gap. But she claims they met 3 years ago, when she was 14 (and if you’re not good at math, he was 22!) – who else thinks it’s creepy for a 22 yo man to date a 14 yo girl?! I FREAKING DO!

Wait, it gets worst! Remember the ex-girlfriend I told you her fiancé had 5 years before? Well, when Kenders meets her, she claims that she’s about her own mother’s age. Now, wait a minute, what?! So, this guy Andrew first dated someone super older than him, and then went the other way around? Completely? What?

But the whole timeline is jumbled. The book starts with a written passage from 2086, and it’s the day Kenders and Andrew meet – which she claims was 3 years before the present. But then at some point, they say it’s 2088… again, what? Also, they have known each other for 3 years, while they were still in college, but Paloma states that 5 years before he was already working for Hexagon… I swear, my head never hurt so much while reading a fiction book!

Also, the whole Extinction thing. At some point she claims it happened 10 year before (I’m not sure about this one though, I was having lunch and might have misread it), but then it’s mentioned stuff she did when she was a child and with Andrew at the University BEFORE the Extinction. HOW? Even if I misread the date, considering everything that was already in place at the present, that event had to have happened a long time ago – Rome wasn’t build in a day, and neither were entire domed cities.

Speaking of domed cities, what/who the hell was Serge? It’s established in the preface that he’s 5 years older than Kenders, but he always loved her… again, is it just me that finds it weird that an 18 yo boy was in love with a 13 yo girl? Yes? No? Ok… moving on… at 18 he was rich as hell, but at 22 he was even richer… not to mention annoying. There were a lot of plot holes concerning Serge, but that last scene when they make him a memorial really bugged me, because this guy couldn’t care less about helping the planet, he did what he did to keep this girl alive. Whatever…

I have so many problems with Lexie! Lexie is only used to lure and seduce men in this book, and I’m assuming that she’s NOT Kender’s age, because that would make some things worst.

This actually happens from the end of a chapter to the beginning of the next: : even if Andrew pre-recorded these conversations before he died” “I’m certain Andrew is alive now … Oh man, the inconsistencies of this book that totally floored me.

Another thing that I didn’t quite understand why it was even there, was that beginning, what I’m assuming were Kender’s trips into Nirvana, when I’m assuming she got revenge on her father. Was she abused as a child? Was that it? Because she only mentioned her father when she talked about how he died, so, is that it? Is it important for the plot?

From the blurb:  After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual. – Funny enough, she never has a big problem with that! She also believes him to be alive pretty early in the game.

So, now you must be wondering where do the 1.4 Stars come from, right? The premise of this book was good, and it could have been done so much better. Most of the problems I pointed out would have been resolved with an older MC, instead of trying to make a 17 yo make sense is this context. So, more than anything, it’s the possibility… Also, this book has too trimmed, basic information was missing at crucial points. It could have been so much better 😦 .

That’s it people, sorry for the long (and bad) review… I really hate doing these 😦 …