Girl Gone Viral

416p. Viking. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780425289907.
Gr 8 Up—When 17-year-old Opal Tal's father disappeared seven years ago, everyone believed it was suicide…except Opal. After years of desperately searching for her beloved Abba, Opal changes her name to avoid the stigma and attention and tries to move on with her life. But when WAVE, the world's leading virtual reality platform, announces a contest to create the most viral VR experience, Opal has to enter. Because first prize is a chance to meet the company's founder and reclusive gazillionaire, Howie Mendelsohn—the same Howie Mendelsohn who was working with her dad when he disappeared; the same Howie Mendelsohn who was the last person to see him alive. Now Opal must discover how far down the virtual rabbit hole she is willing to go to find out what really happened the night she lost her father. The world of Ahmadi's book is as much a character as any other. Setting his book in a not-too-distant future where Seth Meyers is considered "old school" and political lines are drawn not between Republicans and Democrats but instead between Technology and Luddites, Ahmadi creates a nice balance between the familiar and the future. Characters power the story and, though there is not much action, there are still plenty of surprises and suspense. Ahmadi leaves enough loose ends dangling that a sequel is possible, which would be eagerly anticipated by readers.
VERDICT Despite a slow start, this novel picks up the pace and rounds into a very entertaining story with a protagonist readers will invest in.

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