Author: Amy Tintera
Series: Reboot, #1
Release date: May 7th 2013
Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).
Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.
The perfect soldier is done taking orders.
Long live Amy Tintera! That was the thought that was going through my head as I was reading the last few sentences of her debut. While by no means perfect, Reboot is an absolute delight. Why? There are several reasons, really, the most important (in my opinion) being that it brings a breath of originality into an oversaturated genre.
The idea of Reboots’ value being measured by the number of minutes it took them to revive was truly fascinating. The longer they’re dead, the less emotional they become afterwards, and when you’re a soldier, less emotions means less danger of breaking. Wren is a legend among Reboots because it took her 178 minutes to revive. Other Reboots and especially humans see her as a machine. When Callum shows up, he is her exact opposite, physically weak and emotional after being only 22 minutes dead. Most of his humanity is preserved. Somehow, he gets under her skin and when the time comes to eliminate him, Wren can’t let that happen.
The worldbuilding is quite possibly what Tintera does best. A part of it seems to be inspired by favelas, and the author makes it very easy to visualize. The amount of mistrust between humans and reboots is suffocating, and combined with the poverty and fear of disease, it’s almost overwhelming.
It’s true that once you take the time to process it, Reboot loses some of its shine, but not nearly enough to make that initial delight fade completely. The complete emotional shutdown Wren experienced when she rebooted could have been used better. She got over it too quickly when she met Callum, and since it was supposed to be a consequence of being dead for so long (in other words, brain damage), it seemed a bit unrealistic that a cute boy would cure her in a matter of days.
If worldbuilding was this books strong point, the romance was its weakness. The change in Wren happened far too quickly and their connection smelled too strongly of instalove. In the first few chapters, she was portrayed as someone who feels absolutely nothing: no fear, no remorse, no pain, and certainly no love. But it took no more than two smiles from Callum to completely change her behavior. It’s true that some of her coldness remained, but the change was still too pronounced.
Nevertheless, Reboot is a debut worthy of the hype. The pacing is excellent – Tintera doesn’t allow her readers to get bored even for a second. This story has so much potential and I think I have every reason to be optimistic about the second installment.