Title: Disruption (Disruption #1)
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Genre: Dystopian, Young-Adult
Format Read: Paperback, 336 pages
Expected Publication: 1st April 2014 by HarperCollins Australia
Synopsis: “What if a microchip could identify your perfect match?
What if it could be used against you and the ones you love?
Eight years ago, Mercer Corporation’s M-Bands became mandatory. An evolution of the smartphone, the bracelets promised an easier life. Instead, they have come to control it.
Two years ago, Maggie Stevens watched helplessly as one of the people she loves most was taken from her, shattering her world as she knew it.
Now, Maggie is ready. And Quentin Mercer – heir to the M-Corp empire – has become key to Maggie’s plan. But as the pieces of her dangerous design fall into place, could Quentin’s involvement destroy everything she’s fought for?
In a world full of broken promises, the ones Maggie must keep could be the most heartbreaking.” (Taken from Goodreads)
When I was studying psychology in first year uni, I was always interested in human pheromones and how it influenced the way we develop relationships with one another. Jessica Shirvington took the idea of pheromones and turned it into a fast paced and action packed novel full of kick.
In Maggie Stevens’ present day world, M-Corp has introduced a wristband that each individual must wear. But it’s not until you turn 18, that your M-bands are equipped with the technology that allows you to rate every individual that you pass based on how their pheromones match with yours. In this present day world, people are becoming obsessed with rating each other, to the point that anyone who rates ‘negative’ three or more times a month will be taken away for questioning and sent to ‘rehabilitation’ camps.
These ‘negs’ are people that are suspected of having done something extremely unforgiving, or are expected to sometime in the future. Similar to how scientists are looking for a ‘killer gene’ or even a ‘gay gene’, this novel revolves around the idea that negs are considered dangerous and unworthy of life within common society.
Maggie Stevens is a brilliant character that’s been training and gathering intel for two years, in search of her missing father who turned neg suddenly with no explanation. Left with a shattered reputation and all her father’s debts, Maggie’s family moves from their countryside home to Arlington, Washington DC, to start a new life. Little did her mum or brother know, Maggie was on a mission to find her dad. She’s discovered that the ‘rehabilitation’ camps advertised by M-Corp are bogus, and instead they are keeping negs in underground facilities, and stripping away their identities and hopes in order to produce well-behaved and robotic human beings. Maggie will stop at nothing to save her dad, even going as far as using a ‘Disruption’ formula her dad created to manipulate M-Corp’s youngest heir to work on her side.
This novel is amazing, and it’s all because of Maggie. She’s held herself so well, given all the crap she’s had to deal with following her dad turning neg. She’s a strong person, inside and out, and has this unwavering determination that helps her get the job done. But most of all, even though she continuously puts on a cold front, deep down she’s as human as anyone else. And that’s what makes her great, because she’s empathetic and loving, making her a realistic character that you can’t help but root for.
Maggie doesn’t have many relationships in her life, but she’ll protect the people she does care about and trust. I loved her dynamic with Gus, her work manager that she’s blackmailing for his special IT skills. Gus and Maggie seem to hate each others guts, working along with each other only for their own benefits. But at the end of the day, they will always be there for each other if one’s in danger. I had so much fun reading their interactions with each other, because each is just so snippy and irritated all the time. They share a brother-sister dynamic that’s not often seen in YA novels all that much. It’s hard to beat a relationship like theirs, and I will admit it was my favourite relationship in the book.
Maggie and Quentin Mercer’s relationship began on shaky grounds, as Maggie manipulates him into thinking he’s a neg with her father’s Disruption formula, which changes a person’s pheromone signals for a short period of time. Believing Maggie had saved his ass from a neg interrogation, Quentin reluctantly works with her in exchange for a way to turn him from neg to normal for short periods. Little did he know, he wasn’t a neg a all. Maggie and Quentin’s relationship develops slowly, which I really liked. There are definitely traces of insta-like there, to push along the story, but it wasn’t distracting or the only plot of the story. Huzzah!
As an heir to M-Corp, Maggie was using Quentin to gain access to his father’s computer and files, in order to search for her missing dad. Along the way, they start to develop feelings for each other. Sneaking around in tunnels together and running for their lives really helped. Literally. Their oxytocin levels must have been out of this world. I really enjoyed Quentin as a character, whose ability to change from a stuck-up wealthy heir to an empathetic individual had always been there. From the first page, he was portrayed as someone that looked beyond just ratings, but was brainwashed by his family into someone that didn’t care. Believing he himself was a neg led him to thinking he was dysfunctional, giving him the sympathy to open his eyes to what was happening under his nose.
I really liked this world Shirvington had built. Having read a lot of dystopians in the past year, I kept forgetting that the story was based in our world, with only one difference being the M-Bands. The world is Disruption actually seems disturbingly believable, especially with our rapid technological growths every year. Will Google Glass turn into something similar to the M-Bands? Eep!
While I really enjoyed the story, I just thought the twist at the end was a bit…unbelievable. It wasn’t exactly a surprising twist, but it wasn’t exactly an ‘omg no way!’ twist either. It’s hard to explain why the twist makes no sense without ruining it, so I will just say that there are certain points that don’t add up. This by no means ruins the story in any way, but personally, I had just hoped for something different … not exactly sure what. My brain is mush I swear.
Overall, Disruption was such a brilliant and different novel. I loved the characters, I loved this world, and I’m itching to know what’s going to happen next. Ms Shirvington, you’ve done it again!
Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.