I will never say never to a book that tackles virtual reality. It is a topic that I am particularly fond of and I believe that it is already incorporated in our inevitable future. Plus hello, Arvin Ahmadi? Umm… yes, please! After reading his stellar debut novel, there are no questions asked: I love his writing style, his characters, and his plot. This author writes books that I want to read. I mean, Girl Gone Viral didn’t have a cover yet and I was sold the minute I saw glitches in the pitch. Alright, no pressure on this book but I know there’s a high chance that I will love it either way. Let’s get to it!
Author: Arvin Ahmadi
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Published: 21st of May 2019
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
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The inventive and hauntingly timely story of a seventeen-year-old coder’s catapult to stardom, reminiscent of The Social Network with a Ready Player One twist.
For seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper, code is magic. She builds entire worlds from scratch: Mars craters, shimmering lakes, any virtual experience her heart desires.
But she can’t code her dad back into her life. When he disappeared after her tenth birthday, leaving only a cryptic note, Opal tried desperately to find him. And when he never turned up, she enrolled at a boarding school for technical prodigies and tried to forget.
Until now. Because WAVE, the world’s biggest virtual reality platform, has announced a contest where the winner gets to meet its billionaire founder. The same billionaire who worked closely with Opal’s dad. The one she always believed might know where he went. The one who maybe even murdered him.
What begins as a small data hack to win the contest spirals out of control when Opal goes viral, digging her deeper into a hole of lies, hacks, and manipulation. How far will Opal go for the answers–or is it the attention–she’s wanted for years?
OKAY, ARVIN AHMADI. WHO HURT YOU? First of all, HOW DARE YOU? Second, I swear to the virtual gods if this does not have a sequel, I will combine forces with Penguin Teen on Twitter.
As a part of the tour, I received an ARC of this book to borrow. Huge thanks to Penguin Random House for providing copies for the tour. This does not affect my review and all of the opinions and thoughts reflected here are my own.
*cracks knuckles* It’s been a while, huh? To start, let me just say that this book had me in total awe. I could not fully describe how I exactly felt because my emotions were all over the place when I read it. But for the sake of this review, I will try to do my best. Though I have to say something first.
I have been dying to talk to someone about this book FOR MONTHS. It is both a blessing and a curse to be able to read this book so early this year. I swear my head was going to explode only being able to talk about it in code. Like HELLO, a book this good and I can only go “Humina-humina.” Just a few more days, B. The world will eventually know your pain. I wish I could scream but I couldn’t. There is just a lot of ground to cover, but it’s all in a good way. THIS. BOOK. IS. REALLY. SOMETHING. ELSE.
Girl Gone Viral only proves that my love for Arvin Ahmadi soars beyond his debut novel. His gravitating writing style and world-building is remarkable. It is one heck of a ride and it keeps readers guessing, wondering, and questioning about what is real and what isn’t. There is a lot of ground to tackle, but it’s a good thing. There is something in this novel that many can and will find themselves in. I also love how he built the world of Silicon Valley into something eerily familiar yet ridiculously too far to grasp entirely. This book can easily be compared to an underground vault. It has so many floors and layers to uncover that it makes you question the truth of it all.
Another unique concept that I admire and enjoyed reading about this book was WAVE. (Note: if you don’t want to know about it, please skip this section entirely. Not that it’s a spoiler, but having no context about it will help if you want to go into the book blindly.) Imagine Youtube combining forces with all the other social media platforms. It’s like what Google+ wanted to be. Augmented reality combined with Youtube and/or Twitch livestreams, but the host gets to design their stage and is able to completely interact with their audience. The sky’s the limit with what the streamer wants the audience to see, and the most innovative creators compete to see whose show gets to the top. I mean, even late night show hosts knows that WAVE is where it is at. But mind you, Girl Gone Viral does not simply stop there.
The complexity of it all is why it is also easier to imagine this future through the eyes of our heroine Opal Hopper. As the story unfolds, so does she. It is interesting to see how she grows as a person amidst the spotlight that falls on her during her senior year. Imagine being a senior, balancing a scheduled show and her own studies, while trying to navigate university applications, first love, newfound allies and enemies, all while trying to uncover a mystery that has been unresolved for nearly decade. I know. It’s a whole lot but trust me, RIDICULOUS does not cover this book. Surrounding Opal are also some of the most genuine and morally gray characters you could think of. Yet somehow, she has this magnetic attitude, befitting the title that she truly deserves. Opal is the teen that I wish I was, and seeing how she grew in this story made me admire her even more.
That being said, Arvin Ahmadi delivered a fantastic sophomore novel in the form of Girl Gone Viral. The fantastic flow of his writing style will leave readers on the edge of their seats while clutching onto its pages. Its titular character Opal Hopper is strong and will-powered, yet still had the room to grow and challenge her own beliefs. It is a wonderful book filled with the scary possibilities of where the technology of the future can lead us to, but it also delivers to a point where it deeply reflects our current state. I applaud this novel for being audacious and bold for tackling social issues that deeply affect today’s society. If you are looking to start reading science fiction, look no further because this one is here to deliver.
Please do note the following trigger warnings: Death, attempted suicide, and depression
Arvin Ahmadi grew up outside Washington, DC. He graduated from Columbia University and has worked in the tech industry. When he’s not reading or writing books, he can be found watching late-night talk show interviews and editing Wikipedia pages. Down and Across is his first novel.
Much love and thanks to Bookworms Unite PH for hosting this amazing tour. Follow the rest of the tour here (will be linking posts once their tour stops are up):
Bianca at The Ultimate Fangirl (hey, you’re here!)
Kate at Your Tita Kate
Pam at The Girl Who Cried Books
Zia at Accio Blog
Karina at Afire Pages
Marie at Drizzle and Hurricane Books
Alexia at The Bookworm Daydreamer
JM at Book Freak Revelations
Hazel at Stay Bookish
Miel at Bookish and Awesome
Salve at Cuckoo for Books
Inah at The Bibliophile Confessions
Simant at Flipping Thru The Pages
Kate at Reading Through Infinity
Carmel at Bookish Caramel