Some time in the not too distant future, a virus sweeps across America. It can be deadly but isn’t always. Those who die sometimes come back as “Reboots,” especially the young. Broken bones now heal in minutes, senses are faster, better, and the Reboots still age and can have babies. There is chaos and panic and hysteria, of course, and eventually a war between the Reboots and the humans. It seems most of America, between the virus and the war, are wiped out. All that’s left if Texas, who closed their borders early. Texas is now run by a totalitarian corporation called HARC (the book does say what that stands for but I’ll be damned if I remember) who first killed the Reboots but now uses them as a slave labor police force.
The theory is that the longer people are dead, the stronger, faster, and less emotional they are after they reboot. Wren Connolly is 178, the longest time on record of anybody staying dead before rebooting. Wren was killed at the age of 12 in the slums of Austin, where she lived with her addict parents. 12 is the age when Reboots are sent to the training facility, where they learns to kill or capture people on HARC’s command. When the novel opens, Wren has been at the facility for 5 years and is HARC’s best solider. She actually kind of likes it there. At least they feed her. At least she likes it until her roommate starts to act strangely and Wren suspects HARC has been experimenting on her. At least she likes it until a new traniee, Callum, who was only dead 22 minutes and is almost still human, comes in and starts asking “Why?” all the time.
Now, faced with the reality that Reboot lives mean less than nothing to HARC, forced to realize that she isn’t emotionless, what will Wren do? The system seems so impenetrable, can she save herself, let alone anybody else?
The first part of this novel was really, really fantastic. Great characters, great world building, good action, enough humor to leaven things, just really solid writing. The second half, not so much. There was still plenty of action, but it devolved into a “one true love” kind of thing that I found a little irritating. But considering this was Ms. Tintera’s first novel, I’m more than willing to cut her a little slack, especially given how delightful the first half of the book was and how much I’m liking the sequel so far.