Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.
I really liked some of the concepts in this story. With technology so prevalent in our society, and with so much interaction going on via texting, email, and social media, this story has addressed some very real problems.
For me, though, it was hard to get through, for many reasons. My computer science and programming background kept finding holes with how the technology was used. In some cases, the technology was improperly defined. I would have preferred if the author had invented all new forms of technology and then defined them for us. Then I wouldn’t have had this problem.
Also, it's yet another story where the sun rises and sets on the main character’s love interest, which is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I would have preferred more emphasis on the storyline and less on Justin, because it gave the impression that Maddie made all these life-altering decisions based on whether or not she’d be with him—not whether she thought it was the right thing to do. That’s very disconcerting for me, because it sends the wrong message to teen girls.
But the biggest issue I had was the world building. It didn't really make sense. Maddie’s dad created digital school, but he’s also a school principal, a lawyer, and as skilled with firearms as a police officer. On top of all that, he managed to invent and implement digital school in only a few short years, then take it nationwide (when Maddie was still in kindergarten, making him on the young side for all this). That’s a tough pill to swallow, but I guess it could be possible. There are incredibly driven individuals out there who can accomplish many things that would be impossible for the rest of us.
But this is what didn’t make any sense, and was never explained: somehow digital school was interwoven with the government, and it gave the impression that face-to-face interaction was borderline illegal (even though it isn’t). A connection like this is too huge not to explore fully. It left too many unanswered questions, and made the arrests and oppression a bit too convenient for the story. It also conflicted with other aspects, like Maddie’s soccer team.
If the government connection had been clear (as well as the connection to pre-packaged foods and general lack of cooking), then I think I would have enjoyed this story more. But the lack of connections made it sound heavy-handed and preachy.