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Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers' Favorite
Hooked is the first book in the Hard Wired Trilogy by DeAnna Browne. In the future, virtual reality is part of everyday life. People go on dates in VR, have parties in VR and experience the wildest things in relative safety. Some, however, take VR too far: they do not leave it and fall into a VR coma. For them, the VR world becomes their new “reality”, while the body slowly withers away in a hospital. Ari’s father is one of the people who could not resist the lure of VR. He’s the reason why she’s not a big fan of VR and tries to avoid it as much as possible. As fate would have it though, she is assigned to study exactly what she hates and fears so much. She has little choice in the matter if she wants to help her family with the costs of keeping her comatose father fed and alive. During her studies, Ari learns about a special talent she has and soon others learn about it too, and want to take advantage of her unusual, almost “mythical” skill. People like Ari are known to disappear. How can Ari stay safe and also save the people she cares about most?
It didn’t take me long to finish Hooked by DeAnna Browne because it’s the kind of story that you say: “Will read only one more chapter, then I go to bed.” It is an exciting story with interesting characters. Currently, I’m really interested in plots that explore how technology might influence people in the future, and I find virtual realities quite a fascinating topic. This novel shows how it can be a great opportunity, but also a great danger to people. I find the idea of having a device implanted in my neck to access VR a bit creepy, but I guess it isn’t that far fetched. I can see it happening in the distant future – and I can also see all the bad stuff happening, too. The author does a good job of making VR look attractive, but also creepy. For example, it raises the question of consent in VR (as many dates takes place in virtual worlds in this plot). There is a lot happening in the world of Ari, and I find her a relatable character who shows an interesting development. It’s going to be interesting to see where her path will take her (and her family).