Paradigm by Helen Stringer


arc provided by Mediadrome Press through netgalley
Incredibly disjointed.
I appreciate it when an author doesn't dumb things down for the reader, but what happened here is that the reader is "dropped" into a series of very confusing situations, and while they do start to kind of make sense near the end (which makes for an incredibly frustrating reading experience), the book lacks direction, it attempts too many things without successfully achieving them.
There are too many new concepts being thrown at the reader without prompt explanation, for instance:

"“What are those?”
“Digivends,” said Nathan, matter-of-factly. “Awful things.”
Sam stopped the car so a woman carrying a baby could cross the street, and as he moved slowly forward again he noticed a boy walking up to the nearest box. Sam watched with interest as he dropped some coins in a slot on the side.
“What’s a—”
He never finished the question."

And when they're explained:

"“What…” he whispered, still hardly able to form sentences. “What is a digivend?”
“Another winner from Hermes Industries,” said Nathan. “A few coins and you get a hit of the plex.”
“The plex? They’re accessing the hyperspatial plex? Why?”
“Feels good, I guess.”
“They don’t look like they feel good.”
“No, well, it kinda fries the brain after a while. Leaves a craving, though.”

They're not really explained. This book needed a glossary.

The world building had more than just a few contradictions, and the plot was riddled with plot holes.
I really liked Alma and Nathan - Sam not so much, which, considering he's the main character, was a bit of a problem. But he always had a snarky quip at the ready - and he's really not as funny as I suppose he was intended to be. His character was also somewhat inconsistent. While I liked Alma, her appearances were always too convenient, and to be honest, I didn't feel the romance at all.

But it was entertaining, so if you're willing to overlook some randomness and confusion, give it a go.
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