I read this book as a Finalist in the 2021 SPSFC for which I was a judge.
This YA-oriented story is one of the mechanically best written and edited works in the competition. It was a pleasure not stumbling over wording, spelling, and punctuation errors. The writing style has an easy flow.
But where the writing excels, the story lacks. The main plot is basic, and there’s no ‘B’ story – no character arc for our hero. She behaves the same at the end as at the beginning. In fact, one of the early-introduced pseudo-villains is a more sympathetic character than the hero. There could be more tension and conflict throughout the story as the real villain isn’t identified until late in the book.
There’s a tremendous opportunity throughout the book to examine the issue of personal freedom and government restrictions. Such a premise is set up early in the story – a somewhat totalitarian society with enforcement droids everywhere punishing people who step out of line. However, little of this is explored by the end of the story as the climactic battle doesn’t address the overarching issues.
Otherwise, the characters are solid, with many of the artificially-enhanced characters the most interesting and entertaining. Settings are well-described, and the technologies are creative.