Book Review ― Vicarious by Paula Stokes

(Vicarious #1)
by Paula Stokes

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, 
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: 16 August 2016

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Book Depository

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 at 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 life in the process.

my-thoughts-1It took quite a while for me to get into this book. For a good one-third of it (≈110 pages), I was thinking that maybe this book simply wasn’t for me, maybe I should just drop it and move on. It certainly got better, but there were still some parts that didn’t work out for me.

I guess they’re an odd thing for someone like me to collect,
but I like the idea of perfect moments captured in glass.
As opposed to the worst moment ever, captured on a ViSE.

The premise is easy to understand: Winter and Rose have managed to escape their past and with Gideon’s help, they started anew in the United States. Three years after their escape, they work for him, recording ViSEs. However, one day Rose did not return home and a ViSE recording of her supposed murder is found in their home. Winter sets out on a mission to unearth the truth behind Rose’s death and find the killer but what she finds contradicts everything she thought was true. What is real? And what is not?

I want to be normal. I want to be connected.
I think of Rose telling me I need to experience what it’s like
to be with a guy who cares about me. Maybe she was right.
Maybe if I just let whatever happens happen,
it’ll break the curse and I’ll be able to feel things and trust people.

Since Vicarious is written from Winter’s perspective, we get a lot of insight into her thoughts and feelings and I easily empathised with her. We experience her internal conflict and see how her past contributed to her current mental state. Winter’s past played an unexpectedly huge role in the story. She suffers from PTSD due to something that happened during their escape. So not only does she have to deal with her sister’s death, she also constantly struggles with her past demons.

Winter, move, a little voice says. I know I need to move.
But it would be easy to stand here, to be done with everything.
To be with my sister again.
It’s so tired. It would be quick.

I love the idea of ViSEs, and especially how it is portrayed in the world of Vicarious. It’s a fairly new invention there so its distribution is not widespread. People don’t simply own ViSEs, but they have to go to specific places and pay to use it. Plus, ViSEs don’t transport you into a game or another world, but rather, another life. Want to jump off a waterfall or enter an extremely privileged club? Then a ViSE is your go to entertainment source.

It’s about being someone else, someone who does things you would never do.
It’s the ultimate in escapism.

There’s a bit of romance in here but it wasn’t given much emphasis. It was one built on comfort and understanding and the kiss felt like a spur of the moment thing, so… yeah, it didn’t work out for me.

Another problem I had was that I just couldn’t visualise the setting of this book. Because of the cover, I had imagined the city to look like this:

(aka shrouded in eternal darkness and a morbid atmosphere) but it probably looks like any other city with their tall buildings and normal weather.


chat-with-meHave you read Vicarious? What are your thoughts about it? (Feel free to link up your reviews!) What about books that touch on mental illnesses? Do they interest you? Do you have problems visualising book scenes and settings just like me?


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