Series: Virtual Arcana #0
Also in this series: The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Starry Sky Publishing on November 8, 2014
Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Goodreads
In a faraway future, Kelsey Zellar is starting her senior year at yet another school thanks to her twin sister’s troublesome obsession with outlawed virtual reality games.
Every school they’ve ever attended is pretty much the same: lunchroom drama, rich kids binging on enhancement candies, and classmates rallying for or against the government’s strict control over everything from entertainment privileges to caffeine consumption.
Unlike her sister, Kelsey follows the rules and keeps her nose out of trouble and politics while sniffing out her next flavored latte and favorite novel. But when Kelsey meets a charming book connoisseur, and accepts his offering of a tarot card, she takes the first step toward two new addictions: the guy of her dreams, and his illegal dealing of virtual escapes into her beloved storybooks.
Kelsey straddles the worlds of fiction and reality, but is she a fool for believing in her own happy ending?
When I saw that Karen Amanda Hooper was doing a series of futuristic sci-fi romance, I knew I absolutely had to request it from NetGalley. I loved her Kindrily series (if you haven’t read it, pick it up NOW. You can see my review of the first HERE). The Virtual Arcana are being released serial style- short episodes released frequently.
While Dystopia is king right now, shiny, futuristic settings are not. Most Dystopia’s are like The Hunger Games, where it’s a bit post-apocalyptic, and the main characters survive wilderness rather than technology. Suffice to say I was thrilled to find “The Fool” was set far in the future, with exciting and fun technology. It’s been a while since I’ve read this type of setting, so that was an A+ in my book. As our main girl Kelsey goes along in the next episodes, I’m sure the tech is bound to get even more interesting.
Because this is only the first episode (each ep. is between 15-20k words), most of the pages were spent setting up the world, introducing characters, and getting a handle on what exactly is going on in the stifled land of Equatia. Not much is going on, it appears, since the government has limits and controls on literally everything people do during their day, down to how much caffeine they are allowed to have.
Kelsey and her sister Keekee aren’t model citizens, as their shenanigans have forced their family to move three times. The sisters dream of moving to a foreign country, where they hope rules will be fewer and far between. And then Kelsey meets Xander, a mysterious book loving, coffee adoring boy who gives her a card with the Arcana image of “The Fool” and a cryptic message. As she searches a little deeper and finds he has a dark secret, Kelsey has to decide what is really important to her: living an interesting and exciting (albeit dangerous) life, or following the rules just like the rest of the sheep in Equatia.
There’s some instalove (lust) here, but because it’s a short section of the book, nothing other than tension and chemistry really happens. It’s not like they see each other and are suddenly madly in love. I forsee an adorable and interesting romance between Kelsey and Xander, though I’m quite certain it will be extremely complicated.
With an incredibly intriguing setup and setting, a mysterious love interest and a shiny but dangerous world, Karen Amanda Hooper has completely drawn me in yet again. I cannot wait to read the next episode!