Unreal (The Unreal Series, Book #1)
By: Cindy Gunderson
My Review: Four out of Five Stars
Best for: 12 and up
Sigh. Why am I such a nerd?
I’m such a nerd when it comes to AR. (That’s Augmented Reality for everyone less nerdy than me.) It’s when you use a computer to change what your eyes see. It’s pretty common in the apps on our phones these days. Point your phone camera at something, and when you see the picture on your phone you see the thing you expect to see–but it’s augmented somehow. Now there’s a chair in the corner, or there’s a Pokémon in the grass, or you have purple lipstick on your lips, or you’re eating spicy food and throwing up rainbows when you open your mouth. That’s AR, and it’s really cool. Not only because of what it is, but because of what it can potentially do.
Imagine you put on glasses that augments EVERYTHING you see? Imagine the technology gets so good you can’t distinguish what’s real and what isn’t? Maybe there are contact lenses that do the same thing? Or a surgical implant you can connect to your optical nerve…
I guess I nerd-out so much about AR because I see it as a plausible, near-future reality. I think it’s super cool, so when I find books that imagine an AR-infused world, I jump. There aren’t many. Ready Player One might come to your mind, but it’s NOT–it’s Virtual Reality. Warcross by Marie Lu IS about Augmented Reality, and so is Unreal by Cindy Gunderson.
Unreal puts a really clever (and uncomfortable) spin on future applications of AR. This is a dystopian future, where the world has been ravaged by calamity and only pockets of humanity survive. The landscape is desolate, and resources are scarce. Instead of investing precious resources into things–variety in clothing, for example–these folks in our future use AR instead. It conserves resources and maximizes societal efficiency by allowing resources to be allocated to critical needs, while letting us customize the way we visually engage with our environment. How we look, how we learn, and how we interact with everything around us is fully customizable according to our every whim!
Sounds dreamy, right?
I loved how Unreal cleverly took this-could-really-happen science and incorporated it into an engaging dystopian adventure. All the stuff we love about the genre is there: coming of age, love interests, revolutionaries, learning new perspectives…it’s all there, and more. Book 1 kept me engaged, and I’m looking forward to book 2!
I especially appreciated the steam-free content. No language, sex, or violence sensitive readers need to be concerned with. If you’re looking for a fun dystopian future with a cool scyfy twist, I bet you’ll enjoy Unreal!
Best for 12 and up