In the school of their dreams, these teens are go-getters. Set in California’s Silicon Valley, virtual reality is at its height in this fictional and futuristic time. Even in this high-tech high school, drama is alive and well. Opal is our narrator. She loves computer code but struggles between giving up the past and preparing for the future. Opal and her two best friends, Moyo and Shane, enter a virtual contest they intend to win but the path they will travel has consequences. Each of the three main characters faces their own trials and tribulations but they try to do life together, supporting each other, and like good friends, sometimes even laughing at each other.
The author, Arvin Ahmadi, has done a fantastic job creating a world, both online and off, that is descriptive and draws the reader into it. The characters are believable but they are definitely overachievers. Complex and resourceful, they still face the same issues teens face today: an internal landscape of emotions, aspirations, choosing values, completing homework, dealing with “friends,” etc. The pacing was perfect but the author went overboard on the profanity. (It would have been just as good without the majority of it.) This is Arvin Ahmadi’s second book to be published. It’s impressive that he was able to keep this story interesting for 402 pages even though it’s not action-packed with cars blowing up or even teens saving the world from terrorism. It’s the life story of mainly three teens and how they accomplish school, life, and face the future.
Review of an Advance Reading Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Viking
Profanity/Language: 18 religious exclamations; 19 mild obscenities; 4 religious profanities; 5 derogatory names; 32 scatological terms; 27 F-word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: A young girl’s father disappeared, multiple mentions; a woman’s father committed suicide a year before, no gory details; a virtual reality game where they kill each other, not gory; a virtual recording of a teen girl’s father being killed by thugs, detailed & emotional but not gory.
Sex/Nudity: A teen girl remembers kissing a teen boy in 9th grade, mentioned a few times; an online discussion about the breast size of a teen girl; in a virtual world, a guy gropes a teen girl feeling her breasts and joking about the size; a discussion between a teen guy and a teen girl about the pros & realism of virtual sex; a teen guy and a teen girl are in bed together several times, sex isn’t specifically mentioned but there is touching and partial clothing, not descriptive but implied sex; a teen girl and a teen guy experiment with virtual sex, touching but no private parts mentioned; the repeated statement: sex sells.
Mature Subject Matter:
Mention 1X of misogyny, homophobia, & racism; homosexuality, father disappears, sneaking out, underage alcohol drinking, paparazzi, corrupt government officials, corrupt police officers, suicide.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
A teen girl remembers sneaking out and drinking alcohol with friends their 11th grade year; a teen guy drinks, gets drunk, and passes out several times.