This was going to be three stars, but by the time I got to the end of the book, it was a four.
Kirra Hayward is an ordinary sixteen year old – smarter than most, but otherwise completely anonymous. When she stumbles across an unusual puzzle on the internet and manages to solve it, she has no idea of what she’s letting herself in for. Kidnapped by a shadowy organisation known only as The Industry, Kirra soon discovers how valuable her code-breaking skills are. And when she stubbornly refuses to help them, they decide to break her … by any means at their disposal. Kirra knows that to protect herself, she must trust no one, not even her fellow prisoner, Milo. But as time goes by she realises he might be the only person she can rely on …
- This dislike is all my fault. I accidentally read a spoiler of a major plot twist. It made it hard for me to enjoy the book (mostly just the first half) because I knew where it was headed. Fortunately, the second half had a lot of exciting word building that kept me hooked until the last page.
- No real explanation of how Kirra can crack the code. I mean, there sort of is one, but the explanation from Kirra is pretty much, “I don’t know, I just look at the string of numbers and letters and see it.” It made me wonder if there was going to be a fantasy element, but there wasn’t.
- Not enough Lena. I wished we had gotten to know her more because she played such a huge role in Kirra’s character development.
- Nice, touching moments. There were three things in this book that really touched me.
- It’s established early on that Kirra is a loner. She doesn’t have any real friends. But then her younger brother finally starts high school. Kirra’s sitting on her own and he comes up to her and asks/offers if he can hang out with her but she says it’s alright, that she’s fine. She knows he’s got friends of his own, and she doesn’t want to take him away from them, so even if, deep down inside, she would’ve loved to hang out with him and not be lonely, she let him go. I’ve already mentioned before that I have a weakness for sibling relationships in books, so reading this sweet little moment warmed my heart.
- There’s this lovely moment with Milo and Kirra. They’ve been stuck in prison together for a while, going a little crazy from their situation, and Milo’s trying to get to know her. Rose Foster does a wonderful job setting up that moment, and then she does a wonderful job executing it: dialogue, with no dialogue tags. Just a simple exchange of questions and answers. It was a moment that made me genuinely smile.
- Kirra’s arc with Lena. It was just nice having a kind soul amidst the brutality of the world Kirra was thrown into. I love the connection she forms with Lena and how that keeps her strong throughout the book.
- The Industry. The concept of criminal organisations isn’t a new one, but it was exciting nonetheless. I think this is mostly because we get to see it through the eyes of someone who is young and has no idea about this world that is so morally grey.
I’m kind of annoyed that the second book isn’t in any of my Council’s libraries because I really want to read it. Desmond, in particular, is a character shrouded in so much mystery despite being present for a good chunk of the book. The thing I look forward to the most is seeing how Kirra will navigate this new life of hers, especially after the big truth bomb that happened towards the end.