Crashed by Robin Wasserman

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Crashed by Robin Wasserman

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Second part of a trilogy in a future where minds can be saved even if bodies can't. Central character Lia is on a picaresque from spoiled it girl to freedom fighter. Great premise, with a twisty plot and three-dimensional characters, this second book is actually better than the first.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: April 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1847387659

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Lia lives in a future where minds can be saved even if bodies can't. After a fatal car crash, her brain has been scanned, mapped, saved, and transferred into a machine designed to look and feel human. She'll live forever. We last saw her with her new mech "life" in tatters after Auden's terrible accident and her family's rejection. She can't see a future for herself amongst the orgs any more and so she rejoins Jude and his group of adrenaline junkie mechs at Quinn's mansion. It's a life of extreme thrill-seeking, backed up by Quinn's unlimited credit and Jude's shady contact at Bio Max, who supplies them with dangerous and untested, but exciting and cutting edge mods and updates.

For a while, it's enough. But Lia's feet soon start to itch. She doesn't trust Jude or fully believe in his separatist message. Outside the mansion, things are hotting up politically. Auden has become the figurehead for a breakaway group of fundamentalist Faithers called The Brotherhood of Man - and they're stirring up a foment of hatred for mechs. And then Jude sends Lia and Riley on a mission to a corp-town to pick up the latest delivery of bootlegged mods. They walk straight into a set-up - there's a terrorist attack, orgs die, and Lia and Riley are the fall guys. Who is to blame? Is there a traitor? And how far is Lia prepared to go to defend herself and the other mechs?

I thoroughly enjoyed Crash - more than I did Skinned actually, I think. Lia started out this trilogy as such a precious, spoiled, superficial girl that it was difficult to feel much more than an intellectual sympathy for her plight. But she begins Crash a much wiser mech. While she's still selfish and self-absorbed, she's beginning to make some real objective judgements about the world around her and her search for identity is much compelling this time around. She is supported by a truly three-dimensional cast of characters, mech and org alike.

I still love the premise and Wasserman writes faultless sci-fi. Her post-apocalyptic, highly stratified society is absolutely credible, from its pampered elite through the grim drudgery of its corp-towns to the lawless and violent places that are all that's left of our cities. And her technology is equally interesting, from morphing clothes to recreational drugs for the mechs, her people-computers. There's a highly convoluted plot with a thriller mystery that needs solving, but it's not too rushed and there's plenty of time for Lia to find a love interest and tentatively take some steps towards intimacy in this new, fleshless body that's unlimited in some ways but so desperately handicapped in others.

Sci-fi fans are going to love it. Bookbag recommends it too.

My thanks to the good people at Simon & Schuster for sending the book.

They could also look at the eminently readable Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Unwind by Neal Shusterman has an even more chilling look at what the future could bring in medical advances. Younger readers interested in identity and the nature of humanity should read Jimmy Coates: Power by Joe Craig.

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