In an unforgiving future, two warring factions - the MILLENIALS and the GUARDIANS - are locked in a brutal battle over control of an online virtual world called the Metasphere. Jonah Delacroix has always known which side he's on - the same side as his dead father. But when he assumed his father's avatar, he learns that things aren't as black and white as he once believed. He's catapulted into a full-throttle race through both worlds - but can he find the truth? (Synopsis from Goodreads)
I've always been slightly wary of any book/film that relies of some form of technology as a facet of the plot. Not because I think they won't be any good, far from it, but because of that old time chestnut - if I'm reading something that contains a lot of techy stuff that was up-to-date a few years ago, but is perhaps looking slightly archaic now, this tends to distract me from the writing and the story a bit. Well, the point I'm trying to make is that I don't think this will be the case with this book. The set-up in Metawars involves something that, if it ever does come anywhere near to occurring is a long, long, way off. I hope. Because I really don't want to be living amongst a sea of abandoned double decker buses on Clapham Common. And knowing my luck, I'd have the world's most embarrassing avatar....
Anyway, back to the book. I don't often read too much that is aimed at the younger YA audience, but I imagine this is quite a tricky genre to get just right - how to you challenge your reader but at the same time not write something that is going to go completely over their head? Well, I'm happy to say that Metawars succeeds - this is one of the most fast-paced books I've read in a while. At no point does the story lag in the slightest. Jonah, our main character, is catapulted, quite literally on one occasion, from location to location across the globe. Although I did worry about his jet-lag somewhat.
And talking of Jonah, all his thoughts and actions along the way kept me on my toes in terms of his character. I kept changing my mind as to whether I found him annoying or not, but then I had to remember that this is an extremely confused teenage boy we're talking about. One that's just had a life-changing event inflicted upon him within the space of a few hours. I loved the fact that he never found anything clear-cut, and he was used to highlight the rather murky motivations and outcomes of everyone's actions. How the the consequences of some decisions made for the 'greater good' were exactly palatable and even the motivations behind the big bad evil weren't that entirely Bond villian-esque. Jonah reminded me a bit of Ty from When I was Joe and Almost True and I liked them for very similar reasons - you're never allowed to forget that they are teenage boys in very extraordinary situations - they don't always make mature decisions and they are all the more engaging because of this.
Sometimes the story moved so quickly that a little bit of it went over my old head, like there was a massive chunk of back story that I'd missed out on, but it's testament to the book that this didn't really seem to matter to much to the plot. The best thing about Metawars is that it never underestimates the reader - perfect for younger YA audiences then.