[Review] Vicarious by Paula Stokes


Title: Vicarious
Author: Paula Stokes
Series: Vicarious #1 
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: August 16th 2016 

Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have always been inseparable. Together the two of them survived growing up in a Korean orphanage and being trafficked into the United States. But they've escaped the past and started over in a new place where no one knows who they used to be.

Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose's ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it's bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities in the city's hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you--for a price.

When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won't rest until she finds her sister's killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the digital recordings her sister made, Winter isn't sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she'll have to untangle what's real from what only seems real, risking her own life in the process.

Paula Stokes weaves together a series of mysteries and the story of an unbreakable bond between sisters in this unforgettable high-tech thrill ride.

I received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and as part of the blog tour.

Holy crap, what a ride!

I knew Vicarious was going to be a read that I loved from the first several lines of the novel:
“I can’t seem to wipe away the blood. I rub my hands against my nightgown, but traces of the red remain, staining the lines of my palms and the crescents beneath my fingernails. I wipe harder, gathering and bunching the soft cotton inside my fists. The fabric has been slit up the center and for a moment I worry that I’ve been cut, that maybe the blood is my own. I try to ask what’s happening, but there’s a mask over my mouth and nose. Suddenly it hits me—I’m in an ambulance.

I don’t remember how I got here.”

Vicarious is about Winter Kim — a survivor of sex trafficking and an orphan. She works with her sister, Rose, to create ViSe recordings for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon. Essentially, they record the exciting, the sensual and the dangerous, and the recordings are then sold to other people, which allows them to experience all the emotions and see everything that the recorder experienced and saw. However, the office they work out of was broken into and robbed and a ViSe recording is delivered to Gideon of Rose being murdered. Winter refuses to let the police handle it and decides to hunt for her sister’s killer, whether it puts her in more danger or not.

I really enjoyed this novel! It's fast paced and action packed and it really gave me the vibe of a tv show that I could seriously see myself watching, with the crime aspects and the tech aspects as well. I feel like this book really lends itself to being easily adapted into a mini-series. I get a sort of Stitchers vibe to it.

The novel is told in Winter's point of view. She is a Korean teenager and I really liked the way that Paula incorporated slight elements of Winter's culture into the narration without going overboard. It's subtle and informative. Like her name, she's sort of cold and is afraid of crowds and too many people. She's a sort of foil to her sister, who likes to record ViSes at clubs and parties and is not afraid of becoming intimate with others.

Jesse is one of my favourite characters also. He works as Winter's ViSe partner and also serves to protect her from being too reckless in the dangerous stunts they perform. He also has feelings for Winter, of which she's oblivious to. He’s also damaged in his own way and I really like the relationship that he has with Winter.

The last 50 pages or so of this novel really had me on the edge of my seat. The entire time, I was like, “OMYGOD. WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN NEXT?” The novel goes from a nice highway ride, into a rollercoaster hurtling down a massive hill. It ends in a sort of cliffhanger that leaves you both satisfied and absolutely needing the next novel!

Paula's novels have gotten progressively better and I can't wait to see what else she has up her sleeve. Vicarious is a fast paced thriller with a kick-ass PoC heroine and twists and turns throughout the entire novel!

Happy Reading!
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