For seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper, code is magic. She builds entire worlds from scratch: Mars craters, shimmering lakes, any virtual experience her heart desires.
But she can’t code her dad back into her life. When he disappeared after her tenth birthday, leaving only a cryptic note, Opal tried desperately to find him. And when he never turned up, she enrolled at a boarding school for technical prodigies and tried to forget.
Until now. Because WAVE, the world’s biggest virtual reality platform, has announced a contest where the winner gets to meet its billionaire founder. The same billionaire who worked closely with Opal’s dad. The one she always believed might know where he went. The one who maybe even murdered him.
What begins as a small data hack to win the contest spirals out of control when Opal goes viral, digging her deeper into a hole of lies, hacks, and manipulation. How far will Opal go for the answers–or is it the attention–she’s wanted for years?
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRH Global JM @ The Book Freak Revelations and Bookworms Unite PH for organizing this blog tour.
Hello, I’d like more near-future soft science fiction YA books please!
Girl Gone Viral hits all the right notes for me and I definitely enjoyed it a lot. It features Opal, a girl studying at one of the most prestigious STEM schools in LA and a Stanford hopeful. She usually helps her friend Kara (along with their friends Moyo and Shane) with her platform on WAVE- which is like a VR Youtube. She provides Kara with the statistics and algorithms she needs in order to make her platform successful, something which was especially necessary as WAVE introduces a competition called Make-A-Splash. If you win the competition, you get prizes, one of which involves meeting Howie Mendelsohn- WAVE’s mysterious and reclusive founder.
Winning this competition means more than just for fun or something for her college apps for Opal. For her, it’s a chance to get to the bottom of why her father, Aaron Tal and Howie’s co-founder/inventor disappeared/died. This was the mystery that drives Opal to do the things she does and is the core for why she does the things she does.
Of course, things take an interesting turn when Opal unexpectedly strikes a chord and in a way, exposes her own audience. Thanks to a few data hacks she and her friends obtained, they were able to dig deep into the psychology of their audience and in the process of doing so, pose questions on a societal level- some of which have the power to change their society.
Girl Gone Viral was a really interesting story. At first, it’s main focus was on Opal and her relationship with her dad- this of course develops throughout the book and we do eventually find out what happened to him. This is the core plot of the story and the way it was handled was very satisfying. However, the most interesting part of it for me was the subplot involving the Luds- an anti-technology political group and the part Opal plays in unmasking how many people actually support them or are sympathetic to their cause.
I think Girl Gone Viral has some serious series potential despite being a standalone. I’d love to see a sequel flesh out the consequences of the things that happened in this book more. I loved seeing it interrogate truths about ourselves, our society, the way we interact online vs. our online selves, and how we look at online celebrities/personalities.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Girl Gone Viral and I heartily recommend it!
JM at Book Freak Revelations
Bianca at The Ultimate Fangirl (hey, you’re here!)
Kate at Your Tita Kate
Pam at The Girl Who Cried Books
Zia at Accio Blog
Karina at Afire Pages
Marie at Drizzle and Hurricane Books
Alexia at The Bookworm Daydreamer
JM at Book Freak Revelations
Hazel at Stay Bookish
Miel at Bookish and Awesome
Salve at Cuckoo for Books
Inah at The Bibliophile Confessions
Simant at Flipping Thru The Pages
Kate at Reading Through Infinity
Carmel at Bookish Caramel
About the Author:
Arvin Ahmadi grew up outside Washington, DC. He graduated from Columbia University and has worked in the tech industry. When he’s not reading or writing books, he can be found watching late-night talk show interviews and editing Wikipedia pages. Down and Across is his first novel.