Review: Reboot by Amy Tintera

Reboot
Amy Tintera

HarperTeen
Releases May 7, 2013
352 pages
YA / Science Fiction / ZOMBIES!

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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.

Yesterday on Twitter I described Amy Tintera’s Reboot as a zombie book for people who don’t like zombies, and after finishing the book last night, I believe that’s the most apt way I could describe it. Technically our heroes are zombies, but they aren’t the kind that try to eat other people. Most of them still feel and mostly act human with the benefit of enhanced healing and super-fast reflexes. Nearly all the blood shed is caused by bullets and hand-to-hand combat instead of people having their brains gnawed out of their skulls. These are zombies yet not your standard Walking Dead sort. Even comparing this to my favorite zombie book, Dearly, Departed, it’s clear that the Reboots aren’t your typical zombie.

Our heroine Wren was pronounced dead even in a world where adolescence are known to pop back up after death due to a rampant virus. After growing cold for nearly three hours, she came back to life with only the vaguest of memories of her human life and a complete lack of positive emotion. I wouldn’t go as far as the promos have been going that Wren doesn’t feel anything because she feels anger, frustration and fear. She just doesn’t have a sense of humor or feel positive about anything. She’s a bit robotic, but she’s not completely unfeeling though she finds satisfaction in chasing down humans and arresting them at the behest of HARC, the corporation that owns her.

Then introduce Callum, who was only dead for 22 minutes and essentially not much different from when he was alive. He’s the teenage boy equivalent of a giant puppy, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s able to drag out even the most positive of feelings out of the stoic Wren. I mean, who doesn’t love a giant puppy bouncing around like he’s on a sugar high? Callum instantly brought lightness to the story that Wren was going to drag down into darkness with her weird melancholy of anger and soldier perfection. Thankfully the romance portion of the book is kept realistically slow paced with the emotionally distance Wren skeptical of her ability to have true human emotions and the idea of getting close to someone else.

Of course opposites attract, Callum is all puppy-like and what looked like the objective of the book twists into something else. I’m glad that Tintera didn’t drag out the action, instead packing in far more than I thought would fit in the book’s 352 pages. Just when I thought things were going to slow down, a whole new element was thrown in to ratchet up the excitement even further. There is a weird sort of Logan’s Run feel to parts of the book that I could really appreciate, and the unlikely alliances formed were a pleasant surprise.

Tintera’s writing is kinetic with action jumping from the page. Normally a book with this many chase scenes would get a bit tiresome, but even when they were running, there was always another element tossed in to make each chase equally exciting. I don’t know Tintera’s background, but it felt much like The Hunger Games did to me – like it was written by someone familiar with writing for television. The dialogue is natural and fits with the character types, while the action was described in such a way that it’s already visual without needing me to color in the blank spaces.

This is a great debut and could satisfy as a single book, but it will have a sequel. It seems as though the plot of this second book would be pretty obvious based on events in Reboot, but I’m not going to write it off. Tintera has taken several different tropes beyond just the idea of reanimated dead people and twisted them into something new that is exciting and unexpected. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a sci-fi tinged YA title that takes place in a dystopian future with a scattering of teenage romance between a strong female protagonist and a puppy-like male lead. Even if you don’t like zombie because these are not your typical gnaw-on-your-face zombies.

 

I received an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review. Thank you lovely people at HarperTeen!