Monday, 22 June 2015

The Leveller (The Leveller #1) by Julia Durango

Description from Goodreads

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them. 

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. 

Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, thanks to Julia Durango’s cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance adds some heart to Nixy’s vivid, multidimensional journey through Wyn’s tricked-out virtual city, and constant twists keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.

I intentionally removed some of the Goodreads description from up there, because why do they want to spoil half of the book nowadays? Especially with YA novels in which a surprising plot is one of the key elements?? Okay, that being said (mini-rant over), The Leveller was a surprisingly quick and fun to read. The small gamer in me was just ecstatic when I started reading this, not even mentioning that I hadn't read a sci-fi novel for ages before The Leveller. And even though I went in with high expectations, I was positively surprised with the execution of the concept, even though I wouldn't have minded if there was even more about the MEEP, the virtual gaming reality.

Quite many have compared The Leveller to Ready Player One, and I can't really argue there - they definitely share some similarities. But I have to say though, that The Leveller wasn't RPO, either. Durango's novel was more relationship-orientated, making it less the MEEP-focused, and efficiently a soft-core version of Ready Player One. A non-gamer friendly, I guess you could say? The Leveller wasn't as packed with the details of how the MEEP worked and not as obsessed with references to different pop culture elements, even though one "Beam me up, Scotty" was integrated among other references. I wish Durango had gone that one extra mile for The Leveller, to really dig into the virtual reality which is a playground with no limits. 

I was really surprised how funny the novel was. The humour was just spot on, and I occasionally caught myself grinning at the banter or the witty remarks, Nixy for one, threw. Most of the humour was generated by the characters, and the characters themselves were pretty awesome too. The parents, who I rarely get attached to in YA novels, were so nice and warm, that I kind of wished there was more of them in the novel (hopefully in the sequel??). Nixy's friends Chang and Moose weren't boring themselves either, and I really could've done well with an extra dose with Changatang and Chocholate Moose (their usernames, which are awesome and that's why I'm smiling like a fool here).

There was also a romance element included in there, a bit too insta-love for me, even though I could also see the attraction and undeniable chemistry that the couple shared. The romantic relationship was perhaps at fault why the MEEP couldn't really demonstrate its full potential, but I'm not saying that the romance was bad either. I, for example, thought it was pretty cute and heart-warming relationship that they formed. 

The Leveller was a really fun and exciting to read, and a pretty quick at that which even reinforces my thoughts about how I would've loved to read more about the origins of the MEEP, how it actually works, and just general exploration of the gaming in a sense. I know for sure that if I hadn't read Ready Player One before The Leveller, I would have probably given it 4 stars, maybe even 5. But... My standards are pretty high after RPO, so I have to settle with a solid 3.5. stars. BUT. I'm waiting on the sequel! I have high hopes for the next instalment, and I most definitely want to read it. 


  1. I'm glad to see that this book at least made you excited for the sequel! I've been looking forward to reading it so hopefully I'll get a copy soon.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

    1. Yeah it was definitely lot of fun to read! :) I hope you get a copy soon though, I really think it was worth reading!


You can't see me, but I'm totally doing my happy dance as I read your comment!