Drunk and without hope, newly turned twenty-one year old Rena Novo has decided she's had enough and is about to step in front of a speeding eighteen wheeler. Saved from her folly, Rena is brought into the society of Everlife. A new concept in interactive gaming, where employees live, work and are totally immersed in the Everlife philosophy. Assigned to gaming lounges, "Lifers" move up the status ladder by a point system. They live on site, they eat and play on site, and they choose who they earn sex points with on site. Rena is a shining star in Everlife and is a fervent believer in their philosophy. She will do whatever it takes to protect her new family.
Gage Stone is an investigative reporter looking for his missing younger sister. She is his only family and he fears she has been sucked in by Everlife's questionable organization. Determined to find her, he goes undercover as an Everlife new recruit. His assigned mentor, Rena could be an invaluable resource but she has not only drank the Kool-Aid, she showers in it every morning.
Let me just say that I don't know what I expected from this book, but it wasn't what I got . When I first met Rena, my first reaction was "Oh no, another fidiot heroine". As I read on, I discovered some sterling characteristics though. On the surface, she is fearless, strong, smart and a leader. On the downside, she also seemed to easily swallow whatever tripe her Everlife gurus threw at her. It was no less than mindless worship. I understand she felt that she had found the home, purpose, and family she so desperately needed, however it was very difficult not to wish she had indeed stepped in front of the semi. She ignores her inner voice that says "Hey, get a clue!" But wait, don't runaway yet, it gets waaaaay better.
Enter my boy, Gage. Yaaaay, a person with working brain cells!! (Spoiler hint) That statement has MAJOR implications. Instantly attracted to Rena, he is frustrated by her refusal to see the cancer in the upper echelons of Everlife. He perseveres however because he is just that awesome. I loved Gage.
Now I know you must be thinking, "Wow, she does not like this book.". Au contraire, mon ami. I was enthralled by this book, and let me tell you it absolutely shocked me to my toes. It is an enormous testament to Dawn Atkins' talent as a writer. She not only answered every qualm and question that I had, but she did it in such a compelling way that I had finished the book and become an avid fan before I realized it. I was obsessed with finding out how Rena could prove my initial impression as dead wrong. The story was a wonderful thriller with twist, turns, surprises, heartbreak, and redemption. There is a thread of romance, but the actual story is the thing. The evolution of Rena and Gage as a couple and as individuals turned out to be a wonderful reading experience. Just goes to show that first impressions can be seriously flawed and for that I thank you Ms. Atkins, for the life lesson and the absolutely enjoyable read.