The Leveller is a new contemporary novel about virtual reality. Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller–a bounty hunter who takes kids out of the virtual reality world, MEEP, and brings them back to their parents and the real world. Kids in the MEEP play with their minds while their bodies remain in an almost sleep-like state. The MEEP allows players to create whatever world they might desire.
Nixy’s new mission has her in for the biggest adventure of her life. The game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son, Wyn, in the virtual reality world and Nixy is hired to retrieve him back. Wyn, it seems, does not want to be found and he even leaves behind a suicide note. Nixy discovers that Wyn’s not actually hiding but is being held captive; she does not know who the captor is but must find out if she’s to rescue Wyn.
Nixy is a strong heroine and it was great to see her dedication to her job. The male lead is Hispanic so there is a hint of diversity in the novel. The action was different, in a good way, and reading about Nixy’s take downs of bad characters provided plenty of entertainment. That said, despite the potential to be great, the overall plot was disappointing. The book was fast paced but the virtual reality world building faltered. The Leveller was all gaming references and quick romance; it tried so hard to be “cool” but ultimately failed. The writing was off and the overwhelming use of slang left me unable to connect with the characters.
I would recommend The Leveller to gamers; it does have a promising premise and a beautiful cover and the plot may improve as the series progresses.
Benish Khan has her B.A in Psychology and Religion from the University of New York. She’s a psychologist and artist by day, and a bookworm by night. She currently blogs at feministreflections.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperTeen. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.