Sourcebooks. (Jinxed: Bk. 2). Jan. 2021. 352p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492683773.
Gr 4-6–This immediate sequel to Jinxed (2020) picks up with our hero, budding engineering genius Lacey Chu, in the hospital recovering from a mysterious coma, and missing her beloved “baku” electronic companion, Jinx. Her memory of recent events is spotty, but she knows that all is not well at MonchaCorp, the company entity that employs, trains, informs, and entertains most of her city and the wider world. She’s not sure whom she can trust, but with the help of some old friends and neighbors (and some unexpected informants), she realizes she’s in a race against time to keep everyone she knows from being “updated” into pleasant, sedate, ambitionless automatons. McCulloch taps into real concerns about the ubiquity of smart tech and data collection, presenting Lacey and her allies with a series of twists that make it increasingly clear how little they can control or conceal from a once-benign corporation—but the author shies from any real shift in ideas, resolving the plot with a weak promise of corporate responsibility once the villains are removed.
VERDICT Predictable but pleasant, this is a fun, unchallenging read, full of deus ex machina solutions and lucky breaks. The talking animal robots don’t hurt!

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