Reboot is a definite hit in the bloated post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre.
Starting with a great, minimalistic cover, superb tagline, and engrossing blurb; I was already in love when the book dropped me right into the middle of the action. Wren One-Seventy-Eight is a Reboot, a sort of extra-human survivor of a deadly plague. Reboots are stronger, faster, regenerative, and depending on how long they were dead, less human in their emotions. This is immediately apparent as Wren chases down and secures a couple of fleeing humans for arrest and transport back to HARC headquarters. If you doubt her abilities, the instantaneously closing stab wounds will have you thinking twice.
Wren is the highest ranking Reboot, maybe ever. She was dead almost 3 hours, so long the hospital gave up hope that she would Reboot, (not everyone does,) and transported her to the morgue. This experience of waking up alone, surrounded by bodies, has understandably left her a bit traumatized and scarred. (Physically scarred as well. She was out for so long her body was unable to fully heal the gunshot wounds that killed a TWELVE YEAR OLD GIRL. Happy book this is not.) We’re not really told an average time for Rebooting, but we do know that over 120 is rarer, if only because the 120s are assigned to train the lower numbers and there seem to be less than the other groups. There also hasn’t been an under 45 in years.
Until Callum Twenty-two.
Callum is practically human and is a laughingstock at the first newbie practice. He's also not scared of Wren in the least, touching her when no one will even look at her. It’s a guarantee that Lissy One-Twenty-Four will be his trainer, as the lowest of the 120s. Lissy’s trainees have a nasty habit of getting their heads chopped off, (or stabbed or shot through,) ostensibly because they’re the lowest numbers. But Callum, boldly and foolishly asks if that’s because of their number or because Lissy’s a terrible teacher? His humanity, curiosity, and ever-present smile intrigues and disturbs Wren, and she rises to his challenge, selecting him instead of the new 120 everyone expected her to take.
From there, the novel really focuses on the growing love between the two. I found it to be overall an effective romance, but it does take up a large chunk of Wren’s thoughts. For a character who didn’t believe she had emotions until she met Callum, it was a bit difficult to swallow her headlong rush into hormones. Even if Callum points out that she’s always been driven by emotion, she just didn’t let herself acknowledge it, I really wanted to see that explored more fully.
As far as side characters go, there’s Ever Fifty-Six, Wren’s roommate and the closest thing she has to a friend; Leb, the only human or guard she can stand; and...yep we’re out. Ever gets some development and is the catalyst for an emotional Wren scene, but it’s very much a novel of two.
It’s not hard to see that Callum can’t exist in the strict confines of HARC, or that Wren won’t continue once he’s opened her eyes. There are shadowy government plots, genetic experiments, a secret human-Reboot rebellion, midnight escapes, etc. All the hallmarks of a dystopian are here, but they’re presented in a way that mostly felt fresh. I liked that despite their mutant-like abilities, Wren didn’t feel overpowered in the action scenes and Callum didn’t feel underpowered. There’s a good balance between them with their different training and Reboot levels, and the humans who have a numbers advantage and know their weaknesses.
The end was satisfactory and could definitely stand-alone, though I’m certainly planning to continue the series. I suspect someone in the final group isn’t who they say they are. As for suspicions, this book will probably be hit or miss depending on your feelings on the romance. Picture an unrepentantly powerful robotzombie protecting her emotionally vulnerable robotzombie boo. Awesome? Then buy Reboot immediately.