Author: Amy Tintera
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Allen and Unwin (in Australia) HarperCollins (in United States)
Publication Date: 7th May 2013
Rating: 4/5 stars
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes, she came back to life as a Reboot – stronger, faster, able to heal, but less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return, making Wren 178 the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas.
Callum 22, on the other hand, is practically still human. He’s the worst trainee Wren has ever had – his reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking pesky questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet he’s still her newbie. When Callum fails to measure up to Reboot standards, Wren is ordered to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before, but she’ll do whatever it takes to save his life. She’s never felt so alive as she does around Callum.
The perfect soldier is done taking orders.
I really liked this – it was a cool take on the stereotypical zombie novel; not all of them are mindless killing machines. The hierarchy among the Reboots is based on their number – the longer a human is dead before Rebooting, the less human emotions they have and the more effective they are as soldiers.
A virus has destroyed most of the population – it was hinted at, but wasn’t altogether clear, that populations everywhere except Texas had been wiped out. Some people who are killed by the virus, though, don’t stay dead forever.
The story is told through Wren’s voice and the character development throughout the book is really good. At the beginning, the voice feels unemotional and detached, but as Wren becomes close to Callum, this changes significantly. I really liked her transition from creepy zombie to emotional human.
It annoyed me a little that Callum and her growing feelings towards him were the catalyst for this change, but I liked the world Tintera has created too much to let that really interfere. And it wouldn’t really fit the young adult genre without some romance chucked in there somewhere!
The Reboots are kept in a training facility, owned by the government and used as soldiers. At night, they are taken to the slums of the Texan cities to bring down rebels and others who have annoyed the government. Wren has never questioned it, until Callum arrives and touches her human side again.
Wren had a really good back story – even if she hadn’t had such a high number as a Reboot, she had the capacity to be a devoted soldier who follows all orders without question. She grew up in the slums, with drug-addled parents. Being a soldier, she was praised. Being with Callum, she had affection, something entirely new to her. That made it easier to accept him being the catalyst for her transformation.
The humans at the facility are experimenting on the Reboots. Wren’s roommate is adversely affected, which worries her. And then, the humans threaten to kill Callum if Wren doesn’t train him to be a killer. He refuses, even with the threat of death on his head. Wren has to get them out.
I loved Tintera’s world-building. It was a little unrealistic that Texas should be the only place left, but I feel that that was a gap in Wren’s knowledge, rather than Tintera’s intentions. The characters were impressive – I loved the number system, indicating the level of humanity the Reboots possessed.
The end left many unanswered questions, but some will surely be addressed in the second book. I am reluctant to read that one though, as Tintera has used the voices of both Callum and Wren. I prefer reading a single character voice when a book is written in first-person. However, I will get to it as I loved the book’s premise so much. And it will be interesting to see how Tintera expands the world in the second book, with the Reboots outside of the training facility.
Overall, this book was a really original take on the zombie novel and incredibly enjoyable. The pacing was excellent and I would recommend it to all young adult lovers (definitely), as well as those of my friends who like books such as ‘The Girl With All the Gifts’, another original take on the zombie story. While it follows young adult conventions, the story is too different to dismiss it completely, even as an adult.