FICTION

Unison Spark

232p. CIP. Holt. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9293-6; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4299-7581-0. LC number unavailable.
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Gr 7 Up—Mistletoe, 15, lives in Little Saigon, one of the sub-canopy cities below the ESC—Eastern Seaboard City—where the wealthy live in atmoscrapers and from their windows can see Providence and Boston. Like many of the sub-canopy dwellers, she dreams of going topside and having the funds to join Unison, the "social network that knows you better than you know yourself." Her hardscrabble life changes the day she rescues a boy who is obviously from topside. She finds out that he is Ambrose Truax, one of the heirs of Martin Truax, the CEO of UniCorp, owner and developer of Unison and other subsidiaries, such as BetterFoods—nutritionally balanced artificial foods that taste like and give the sensations of their real counterparts. As Mistletoe and Ambrose talk, she realizes that they share the same dreams of tubes and wires and a place not home. Investigating, they realize that they are both created and not human. Digging further into the mystery of their creation, they are led into Unison itself and the plan for the upgrade to Unison 3.0, which could possibly lead, through friending, to the creation of an entirely new world and the dismantling of another. Nothing is, however, what it seems and the deeper the teens delve, the more unreal things become. Give this novel to readers who are obsessed with social networking sites, or are fans of films such as The Matrix, Tron, and Inception.—Suanne Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Unison is the virtual social networking group that rules the world. The newest upgrade is due soon, and Mistletoe and Ambrose, two teens from vastly different economic backgrounds, suspect it will have devastating consequences for users. The story can be convoluted and confusing, but conspiracy theory fans will enjoy it.
Andy Marino’s debut novel is a futuristic, intelligent thriller that takes on tough issues such as inequality, social networking, and dysfunctional family dynamics. Unison, a social network, knows its members better than they know themselves. The Thoughtstream’s incessant, vapid updates, eerily similar to elements of certain currently popular social networking sites, will give readers a lot to think about. The division of Eastern Seaboard City into a rich “topside” and poor “subcanopy zones” is an element of this book’s dystopian world that is thrilling and terrifyingly plausible. Mistletoe is a fierce and fearless character who, despite her impoverished background, is willing to confront one of her society’s most powerful leaders. Ambrose also displays great courage; in his journey he must confront both his own father and his past.

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