Young Adult

DYSTOPIAN: Channel is a seventeen-year-old girl living in the Paradise 3 Community. She is unreal. Everyone in the communities have a retinal implant that allows them to see any virtual reality they want. After the earthquake, these communities were built to reduce waste and preserve the little resources that were still available to them. However, not everyone was readily accepting of the new way of life and refused to enter the communities. Channel has always believed her way of life was the better choice, but when the new technology, Cerebrolink, is introduced doubt sets in. Further away in the Southwest Territory is Mila. She is real. Her parents chose to refuse integration with the communities and fought for that right, but over time their population dwindled as more chose to leave. With lack of support from the communities, resources are scarce. Mila and three others work together in search of a better alternative. 

Cindy Gunderson created a thought-provoking and immersive read. From the beginning, the tone implies a beautiful world that was created logically. However, the idea of conspiracy and underlying societal issues are introduced early in the plot. Readers can speculate with this new information as it doesn’t come full circle until the end of the novel. “Unreal” encourages readers to grapple with complex ethical concerns as the characters struggle with their own choices regarding free will and what makes life real. This speaks volumes about what makes humans who they are and the value of real experiences, while also encouraging the continual pursuit of intellectual advancement.

Sadie Wilson