Wednesday 6 February 2019

Book Review: Nirvana by J.R. Stewart

Last Updated: 7 September 2021

Nirvana by J.R. Stewart book cover

AD* | When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realised - even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.

I started Nirvana feeling a little as though I was on the backfoot - it seemed as though I'd begun reading a book midway through a series, despite this being the first in a trilogy. Characters had little to no introduction and there was very little initial world-building or explanation of the concepts that were commonplace in this dystopian reality. This led to me largely just being confused for most of the book, but still, I persevered.

Nirvana tells the story of Larissa Kenders, known by her surname, who is an activist turned rockstar conveniently engaged to one of the primary developers in the new world. Kenders and her fiance, Andrew, seem to know everybody and both have connections ranging from lowly support staff right up to corporate bigwigs. Although it was hard to keep track of everybody and their relationships with one another, the fast-paced nature of the plot added another spanner to the works. 

Of course, there's nothing wrong with a speedy plot in stories of this genre, but large and significant events just seemed to happen over the course of a few pages before being shelved and moving on to the next issue to tackle. More often than not, this made the book seem chaotic rather than thrilling.

Despite all this, there were some glimmers of a great storyline in Nirvana. The concept of the book itself is a good one, and it's clear that the author is trying to share a very important message - we all need to protect the bees! In today's society, it can be all too easy to forget about climate change, pollution and saving the planet, but luckily, these once-taboo topics are becoming increasingly common household conversations - this book is a great conversation starter for a very important global issue.

All in all, I'm sorry to say that Nirvana just wasn't for me - I won't be reading the rest of the trilogy, but perhaps this book will be better suited to some of my readers. If you're a sci-fi fan, why not give it a try?

Rating: 2 stars

Nirvana is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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