The Leveller – Julia Durango – The Leveller #1 – HarperTeen – Published 23 June 2015
Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.
Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.
But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?
Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?
Nixy is a leveller. That means she goes into the MEEP to pull out kids who would rather spend their days in the virtual reality game while their body stays in the real world in a comatose state. When the MEEP’s creator, Diego Salvador approaches Nixy for help in returning his son Wyn to the real world, Nixy thinks it will be a quick trip. But a suicide note and a series of scary challenges complicate this rescue mission, as does a further surprise that awaits her within the game.
This is a really interesting and exciting story. I’m not a gamer, but I highly enjoyed both the concept and the execution. There was lots of fighting, weapons and gaming action. The romance developed fairly quickly, but it’s a fast-paced book overall anyway so it works. The gaming world itself felt totally authentic – complete with virtual monkey attacks, laser guns and zombies. Nixy is a brave and honest heroine, who will appeal to readers. The Leveller is a quick and enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to where this series goes next.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction
Genre: Science fiction.
Age guide: 13 and up.
Themes: Computer games. Alternative realities. Romance.
Published: 23 June 2015 by HarperTeen.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 256 pages.
Author’s website: Julia Durango.