Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reboot by Amy Tintera

Sixteen year old Wren Connolly was killed five years ago after being shot three times in the chest. 178 minutes after dying, Wren rebooted - that is she came back to life again in the Dead Room of the hospital. The less time dead before the Reboot, the more human a Reboot will be.

Rebooting is the result of a reaction to the KDH virus which kills most people but behaves differently in young, healthy people. The virus causes people to come alive again, known as Rebooting, coming back stronger and more powerful. Rebooting occurs after every organ in the body shuts down, and the longer the "rest", the better the Reboot. Reboots with a higher number , like that of Wren, heal quickly, are faster and stronger requiring less food and having the ability to withstand high levels of pain, but are emotionally cold. Reboots also do not get sick and continue to age like normal humans. Reboots are almost entirely comprised of young people.

These characteristics resulted in Reboots being abandoned by their families who considered them monsters. At first they were executed, but the Reboots rebelled and fought back. They lost the war and were enslaved almost twenty years ago.  Each Reboot has their name tattooed along with the number of minutes they were dead on their wrist along with a barcode.

Wren lives with other Reboots in the Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation, or HARC facility that houses living quarters and a medical facility. Every room in the living quarters has glass walls so that Reboots have no privacy. They are watched constantly and their conversations are monitored. The Reboots are trained to be elite soldiers who capture criminals and remove the sick from the slums of Austin, Texas. With the highest number at the HARC facility at 178 Wren is considered their top soldier, fast, strong and emotionless.

When a new group of Reboots are brought to HARC, they are trained by those already there. The new Reboots with higher numbers are chosen by the veteran Reboots who also have a high number. However, in a break from her normal behaviour, Wren chooses Callum Reyes, who has a very low number of 22 (and therefore considered to be practically human), to train when a group of Reboot newbies arrives at HARC.Callum's low number means that he is still very much like a human, isn't as strong physically and more emotional.

Callum seems attracted to Wren, asking her many questions about being a Reboot. When Wren tells him she doesn't feel, he challenges her view of herself, pointing out that she feels anger, sadness and happiness.

Everything Wren understands about her existence is turned topsy turvy on a solo mission one night when she learns that a group of humans is working to free Reboots from the HARC facility and that there is a Reboot reservation in the northern part of Texas. Wren discovers that one of the kinder humans, Leb, is involved with this covert resistance.

Not only that but her roommate, Ever, seems to be part of an experimental program that turns her into a zombie during the night. She can't sleep, gets the shakes and begins craving meat. Eventually, Ever is unable to control her zombie like craving, frequently attacking Wren and others. She knows something is wrong with her and that the injections she has been given are harmful. Wren begins to realize that Ever is not the only one when she sees Callum attacked by a young boy who tries to eat him.

When Wren and Callum are sent on a mission that involves killing a human and Callum refuses, Wren is told by her superior that if Callum refuses on the next mission she must kill him. After Callum indicates to Wren that under no circumstances will he kill for HARC, Wren decides she must get Callum out of HARC to safety on the Reboot reservation. Can Wren convince Leb to help her save Callum by fleeing to a reboot camp whose existence is doubtful?

Reboot is a novel with a truly strange storyline - a virus that kills people only to make them come back stronger and faster than before, somewhat like zombies, yet not zombies. The world of Reboot is post-apocalyptic; set in Texas, where the cities have all been destroyed. Reboot requires readers to suspend their belief through most of the novel; the Reboots suffer terrible injuries during training but are able to heal in minutes, Reboots are similar to zombies with their pale, cold skin but yet are able to continue to grow and mature into adults.

Nevertheless, the characters in Reboot are well drawn, especially Wren whose narration reflects a growing awareness that she is capable of emotion and the realization that she desires to be free. At the beginning of the novel, Wren is portrayed as a cold, efficient soldier - the best HARC has, and not prone to emotional responses other than hating screamers and experiencing the joy of the chase. But Callum, as the almost human, cute, love-interest, helps to change that as he forces Wren to ask those questions she hasn't considered and brings out her compassion. The tragedy surrounding Ever, Wren's only friend and her roommate, causes Wren to experience a sense of loss and profound grief, showing her to be vulnerable and human. Wren struggles with who she was, what she has become and how others view her. Despite begin stronger and faster than the average human, even though she is petite, Wren also struggles with a body issue, involving the scars from her fatal wounds.

While the storyline is fairly predictable, most readers will enjoy getting to the end as Reboot is equal parts action and romance. Expect a sequel to Reboot sometime in 2014.

Book Details:
Reboot by Amy Tintera
New York: HarperTeen     2013
365 pp.

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