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 😦 …

23 thoughts on “Nirvana (J.R. Stewart)

  1. Cátia says:

    Who’s Serge? The only thing I heard about him was when Andrew told Kenders not to trust Serge. Is him important? Let’s be honest, I agree with you in everything (almost everything because I’m not even hafway through the book and there are a few things that I don’t know). I’m extremelly confused and the whole timeline is all messed up

  2. fiddlerblue says:

    Aww I’m sorry it was such a confusing ride. I understand what you mean about the timeline, which I totally overlooked during my review! I thought this was a big improvement compared to the first draft, but it still falls far from expectations :/ I wish they fix Larissa’s age as well, and I think Lexi is meant to be the same age as her so…..yeah xD

    • MyTinyObsessions says:

      i think that’s the thing about not having read the first one, I didn’t have anything to compare it to, you know?

      well, if lexie is Kenders’ age, it’s weird, because she was already all flirty when they were giving concerts (who knows how many years before)

  3. 22aer22 says:

    I’m so happy I stumbled on this!! I am super biased and prefer reviews of bad books, so I got a kick out of reading this. Honestly, though, now I’m kind of curious about reading it and putting in on my ever-growing list of books to make fun of.

    Seriously, if your theory is right and originally the protagonist’s age was older, then sure, a few problems are solved. But how do you make that kind of mistake in the first place? If it only affected one minor detail, I could see the problem. Based on what you’ve said here, though, it touched basically every corner of thees character’s lives and made everything INTENSELY creepy.

    I’m so with you, age gaps don’t bother me at all in stories (I mean, maybe if it’s like a really really massive one), but 14 and 22 is weird as shiiiit.

    Also I love your font/font colors. Super weird to comment on? Maybe. But I love a good layout and usage of fonts and colors.

    • MyTinyObsessions says:

      Hi! It is coming out tomorrow, so if you want to read it… 😉
      the age was a big problem for me. I don’t mind when a 17yo meets a immortal angel or a freaking centenary warrior fae, or whatever, but a 14 yo with a 22 is too weird! :S – the fact that they kept touching on the fact that they had beens together for years, have lived together for years, have a life together, complete with dog and cute holiday memories, just made it weirder. If they had just met it would have been better.
      It honestly felt like the character should just be a lot older than she was written to be.

      Oh, thank you so much for your comment on colors and fonts, I have a thing with them 😉

  4. thedaydreamingbookworm says:

    First off, kudos to you for even finishing this book! Second, this is probably the most entertaining review I have ever read, but at the same time, so very accurate. I could not keep up with the back and forth in this book. Having to constantly re-read things in order to understand it was FRUSTRATING! I honestly wonder how they are going to go about fixing these issues in the second book (if there even is a second book).

    BTW: Love the GIFs! 😀

    • MyTinyObsessions says:

      I honestly don’t know what can come after this one. I don’t see a plot, without it being more of the same: Kenders looking for Andrew… again! 😦
      You’re totally right: very FRUSTRATING!!!

  5. cwreads says:

    Now that I’ve read your review Cristina, I feel like I may have been a bit tooooo lenient with my review! XD

    Your points are absolutely spot-on, especially with the inconsistencies. I think what happened was that in the original book, the main character WAS in her 20’s. And they might have reduced her age to 17. I’m not sure though, but it seems the most likely answer.

    • MyTinyObsessions says:

      yes, a person from the publisher explained to me that the author diminished the ages of the 2 main characters prior to publication. Still, it doesn’t make sense 😦
      I understand that maybe if I had read the other version first, I would have seen this one as a huge improvement =/

      • cwreads says:

        I think that’s how I looked at it. I gave the first version a 1.5/5 and saw the improvements, so gave it a 3/5 as a result. Bah. But I really, really do agree with your points – I find no fault in your criticisms!

  6. Josephine says:

    Ah I also dislike doing negative reviews, it’s such a shame when a book has so many problems! It’s frustrating and it’s sad to write!
    It’s a shame this book didn’t do it for you. I hope your next read is even better! 😊

    • MyTinyObsessions says:

      oh, the one I read after was better, I’m now at the one after that! lol
      Yeah, it pained me to find so many faults within the novel, especially because this was already a revised version 😦 but I couldn’t just skip it =/

  7. Debbie @ Silk&Serif says:

    Yeah, you pretty much highlighted everything I didn’t like about the revised Nirvana. I honestly really enjoyed the original, unaltered ARC because it explained many of the things you were confused about but it didn’t receive very good reviews because the reviewers targeted were the wrong audience. The original was more NA than YA with more scifi elements than romance. YES the age difference was super creepy! Anyway, just wanted to say that I’m glad someone else agrees with me and great review 🙂

    • MyTinyObsessions says:

      I ended up not reading the original version, because by the time i was ready to read the book, the new version was already out.
      I thought the target was wrong, and making the characters younger was definitely not a good move. I keep reading recent reviews that say that the book is amazing, and I have to wonder if people aren’t creeped out the way I was… maybe they don’t even notice it? I don’t know… it had a lot of potential… =/

      • Debbie @ Silk&Serif says:

        I don’t know – I’m happy so many people are enjoying it, but I felt the whole concept had plenty of potential pre-changes. I though that with a few minor tweaks to the original story would have lead to a really great New Adult novel but apparently reviewers wanted something different. Obviously, its all personal preference..
        I haven’t noticed anything in reviews about the ages of the main characters which leads me to believe either no one noticed the age differences or it didn’t matter to readers. I’m not entirely sure how I feel if readers just didn’t care about the morally ambiguous age difference between all the characters and Kenders..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.