I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Nirvana (Nirvana Series #1) by J.R. Stewart
Published by Blue Moon Publishers on November 10th 2015
Buy on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, Book Depository
When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?
Larissa Kenders lives in a world where the real and the virtual intermingle daily. After the supposed death of her soulmate, Andrew, Larissa is able to find solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world where anything is possible – even visits with Andrew. Although Larissa is told that these meetings are not real, she cannot shake her suspicion that Andrew is indeed alive. When she begins an investigation of Hexagon, the very institution that she has been taught to trust, Larissa uncovers much more than she ever expected and places herself in serious danger. Her biggest challenge, however, remains determining what is real – and what is virtual.
Nirvana is the first instalment in the three-part “Nirvana” series, a fast-paced, page-turning young adult trilogy that combines elements of the romance, mystery, and science fiction genres. This first novel introduces readers to a heroine who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so.
I’m not usually a fan of fiction that features virtual worlds in any form. I really love the idea of Virtual Reality in real life, but on paper it tends to lose my interest. I like my fiction and VR separate, I guess. Nirvana did a great job in separating itself from the current speculative fiction genre. The VR aspects are super important to the story which readers learn later on, but it isn’t the VR mysteries that kept my interest.
The world struggles to go on after a mysterious illness kills all the bees which caused ecological devastation. No one knows why the bees disappeared. The elite are the only members of society who can afford real food and the safety of living in luxury laden glass domes. The majority of the population lives outside the domes in trenches and barracks awaiting attacks from the outside while escaping into Nirvana, a virtual reality where everything is possible.
Larissa Kenders loves her husband Andrew more than anything or anyone in the world. When he dies her whole world falls apart, but is Andrew really gone? With the government pressuring Larissa to move on and sign Andrew’s death certificate Larissa finds an escape in Nirvana, a virtual world, where she can be with Andrew again. Larissa struggles to discern fact from fiction, real from virtual, while unknowingly threatening to expose Hexagon’s deepest secrets.
One part apocalyptic dystopia, one part conspiracy theory, Nirvana is a unique novel with romantic overtones.
Larissa spends a lot of time proclaiming her love for Andrew and being completely blind to her childhood best friend’s love for her. I found that Larissa was often extremely selfish and cruel to Serge who was only trying to help her come to grips to her situation. Sadly, I didn’t really understand why Serge continued to be her friend after everything she says and does to him. Larissa leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to intelligence and altruism which actually makes her extremely unlikeabe for a main character.
I loved that Stewart enmeshed giant conspiracy theories, secret fraternities and evil corporations into the virtual reality and romance mix! The development of a failing world, dark secrets and unrivaled corporations is a chilling and realistic premonition of our society’s future. I will definitely continue on with the series to learn more about the world, conspiracy and Hexagon’s role in everything. I really would love to have more world building and action in book two..with less Larissa being a depressed and selfish brat..fortunately where Stewart struggles in character development he more than makes up for in world building.
Nirvana is written for what appears adults, but its probably better suited for young adults. The characters and world had many elements you’d find in new adult novels with a love story that feels very “young”. I don’t know how this will affect sales, but the novel doesn’t really fit with New Adult or Young Adult pigeon holes, which is interesting.
This book would appeal to readers who enjoy dystopia, science ficiton, romance, societies with class systems based on technology, young adult and new adult literature.