Now this is an original take on the zombie apocalypse.
The world has been decimated by the KDH virus. It kills most people, but for some, usually the young and strong, it Reboots them, bringing them back stronger, more powerful, less bothered by emotions.
17-year-old Wren is a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation) in the Republic of Texas. 178 minutes after she was shot in the chest three times, she came back as a Reboot, not fully human, but not dead, either. The Reboots’ value is measured by the number of minutes it takes them to revive. Depending on how long they are dead, the less human they are when they return. As a soldier, fewer emotions and faster healing are optimal. This makes Wren a legend. She is a machine. They are known by their numbers and Wren 178 is the deadliest.
Wren’s job is rounding up and bringing in sick or criminal humans, all for the protection of the species. She also trains new Reboots, and as the highest number has her choice of new recruits. So how did she end up with Callum 22? He was barely dead long enough to qualify as a Reboot. But she takes him on, and in the process of training him discovers that her humanity is not as lost as she believes. And that maybe everything she has been told is not entirely the truth.
Wren is an interesting and complex character. Having been the deadliest Reboot for five years, she is cold and emotionless, and completely focused on her role. Told repeatedly that she is less than human, she accepts everything HARC tells as gospel. This is the only life she remembers.
Wren’s relationships with Callum and Ever are built up beautifully. Wren gradually discovers attraction and feelings for Callum, and in the process, realizes that that she can consider Ever a friend, something she hadn’t believed she was capable of before. She regains her humanity as the novel progresses, although I will admit that having the boy be the catalyst was a bit too easy. I would have liked to see her friendship with Ever be the reason she could fall for a boy, instead of her attraction to Callum her reason for returning Ever’s feelings. But that is a minor quibble for otherwise excellent character development.
Callum and Ever and Officer Leb make great contrasts to Wren’s emotionless state. None of them deal with her through fear, but acceptance, trust, and warmth.
The plot is interesting and fast paced; the action sequences fill the story and really set the tone. There is graphic violence, but it is not gratuitous to the storyline. What does stand out is the commentary on humanity’s inhumanity. Differences are not celebrated but shunned and imprisoned. Fear is the prevalent emotion, not acceptance. Walls are built to keep the wealthy safe and the poor isolated. The Reboots are feared and enslaved. Does that sound familiar to anyone?
Good world-building. Post-apocalyptic Texas is divided between the rich and the poor, the clean, well cared for homes and the dirty fenced-in slums. Amy Tintera does a fabulous job of bringing the reader through the dark, foul-scented streets where the impoverished and sick find shelter. The HARC building is a comfortable yet inpenetrable prison for the Reboots and the few glimpses they have of the outside world is usually in the dark on missions to extract the sick.
This is a really well-written, thought-provoking story, and it will be interesting to see where the sequel, Rebel, takes it. Definitely not for the squeamish, make sure you have a full evening free when you pick it up; you will not put it down until the last page is read.
Reboot was published May 7th, 2013 by HarperTeen.