by E.G. Wilson
Adelaide Te Ngawai was thirteen when Maunga Richards stole her voice.
Addy is plunged into silence when a high school bully inflicts her with an incurable disease that leaves her unable to speak, write, or create. Vox Pox—a man-made malady that’s been terrorizing the city for months. Resilient, Addy fights to survive. To not be silenced. But then her brother, Theo, is infected as well.
Desperate for any information that might help cure Theo, Addy follows Maunga into a newly developed virtual psychoreality simulator and discovers a conspiracy deeper than she’d ever imagined. How far will she go to save her brother?
I received this copy in exchange for an honest review from Pikko’s House publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you Pikko’s House!
I made the mistake of checking reviews on Goodreads when I received a copy of this novel, because I stumbled onto a not so great one and got a little bit worried that I would not enjoy the book. The premise had gripped me when I had read the synopsis, but the review spoke of a slow moving plot and a less than engaging voice.
None of which I found while I was reading.
The story starts with a bang, and when you have an opening line like “Adelaide Te Ngawai was thirteen when Maunga Richards stole her voice…”, you know you’re in for quite the ride. The premise promised – a person stealing voices – was well-crafted, the mystery surrounding the reasons evident throughout the novel, with hints of answers in the pages if you were looking. The fact that the loss of the voice was not the only thing these victims were going through raised the stakes.
Adelaide losing her creativity with her voice struck such a strong chord with me. The fact that she was able to pull herself together, push forward and on, was a feat I admire. I would not be able to survive losing my ability to craft stories, my ability to create, I am quite sure of that.
Her determination to save her brother from the Vox Pox was an admirable situation, and she was a very realistic character. Even if the world was a distant sci-fi inspired future, the characters were very grounded and realistic, and their relationships were multi-faceted.
I am a sucker for quests and journeys in stories, so perhaps that is why I loved this one as much as I did. The virtual reality journey Adelaide goes through was very well-written. It was confusing at times, but as Adelaide was as confused as I was, it enhanced the atmosphere for me.
The resolution of the novel left me wanting more, and I am quite bummed that as far as I can find, there is no information out on book two.
I loved the fact that the story was set in New Zealand. I lived in Auckland for three years, and I could hear the accents and the slight bit of Maori I recognised gave me a thrill.
One thing that did bug me was the description of Maunga being “more Maori” than most, and her being the supposed villain for most of the novel. It rubbed me the wrong way that the character that seemed to be the most of colour (this phrasing seems off, I know, but I cannot think of a better way to phrase it) was the bad guy. Of course, by the end of the novel, I know this is not true, and she becomes an ally, but it did irk me in the beginning.