May 11, 2015

ARC Review of Etherworld by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam

Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count: 352
Format: ARC/e-ARC
Genre: YA/Dystopia

In this sequel to Elusion, three teens fight a virtual reality program that threatens to destroy their minds. Dangerous secrets and lies add up to a thrilling futuristic fantasy with an Inception-inspired twist.

Elusion was hailed as an exciting leap in technology—until users began to disappear amid rumors of addiction. Regan’s search for the truth led her and her new love interest, Josh, to Etherworld. Etherworld is a dimension hidden deep beyond Elusion's firewall, where players can hide, and ultimately fight back. Regan's father and others are here working to destroy Etherworld, but the longer they stay the less likely they'll be able to return to the real world alive.
Escape means attacking Elusion from within the program. It's dangerous and it’s a puzzle. And even if they manage it, how will they be able to stop Orexis from distributing Elusion to the masses when the people who run it are corrupt?
*an ARC of this book was given to me by the authors and an e-ARC via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review*

 Etherworld by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam was one of the books that took me the longest to read, in a sense. I originally started reading it in March and finished about a quarter of it before I slipped into a hiatus. During the hiatus I didn't touch it at all and finished it in May when my hiatus ended. Despite the gap between starting and finishing it I still found Etherworld to be just as good as Elusion and it kept me hooked through all that time. A small annoyance in the end where the book skips six months knocked off half a star (more my personal preference, I wanted to read more about what happened) but the rest of the book was very well written.

Etherworld starts almost immediately from the cliffhanger that Elusion ended in where Regan and Josh manage to back it into Etherworld. While the setting of Etherworld wasn't that interesting (its supposed to be that way after all) we were also given several new Escapes to look at, from a desert to a jungle and more. The strong point of Etherworld was plot this time around, the world-building didn't  have that many new additions from Elusion. From bombing the Escapes of Elusion to confrontations with Orexis and near-death moments the plot had me hooked. Tension and action were deeply rooted into the pages of Etherworld and fans will certainly appreciate it.

Etherworld introduces several new characters, mostly the other people who had hacked or found a way to get into Etherworld to see Regan's dad. We also get to see more of  Bryce as well as some info on his participation and reason in all the ongoing events. The rest of the characters weren't that interesting in my opinion other than filling a character gap although I would have liked to see more parts with Bryce (maybe a short story?). Regan and Josh's relationship continued to grow and become more complex while the love triangle from Elusion continued here as well. The expected person becomes the "winner" and the other person accepts defeat. Additionally, while I was sympathetic to Patrick in Elusion I started hating him once he had Regan hospitalized but thankfully he redeemed himself later. Once again, Claudia and Cheryl manage to concoct a mesmerizing plot complete with complex and interesting characters worth reading apart.

Etherworld was completely worth the read and while I'm not sure if there will be a sequel I certainly hope there will be. Completely worth reading for people who enjoy fantasy/dystopia novels, virtual reality, or similar ideas.

4.5/5 - Really good book

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