Tuesday, October 29, 2013
ARC Review: Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes
He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don’t care.
At least at this moment, I don’t care.
Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…
I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta.
It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.
Except that she’s not.
Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.
Although I've never read Dickens' Oliver Twist, I've read and seen enough movie adaptations of his other books to expect a rather twisted and depressing story. And in this, Olivia Twisted does not fail; it's very realistic and at times quite sad.
The story starts out strong with its admirably tough protagonist, Olivia. I definitely felt empathy for her at first and admired how she had stood strong through all that she'd been through. I was hooked from the beginning. However, I feel that, although the book started on a good note, I never really felt drawn into it after the first few chapters. It turned into a slow read.
Of course, Olivia's questionable new friends present many puzzling questions to the plot, which I did enjoy. And I do think the dual points of view add plenty of intrigue. I definitely wanted to know what Z's motives were, even though the pace felt sluggish. And Barnes doesn't let up on her poor characters - the characters suffer a lot and the plot got progressively more and more intricate. I felt very drawn into the whole world of hackers and the kind of life Z lives.
A few things I didn't like: Um, I didn't really care for the name Z. It's explained later on, but it still seems kind of weird. And the fact that one of Olivia's friends convinces her to steal a shirt from a store? That felt out of character for Olivia. Even though she's been treated poorly her whole life, I still felt that she had enough common sense not to do something like that. I didn't like how Olivia's behavior and choices spiral down more and more as the story continues. Z was too much of a bad influence to her, even though he definitely had good reasons for being the way he is. And since I wasn't crazy about the characters, I wasn't a fan of the romance; it felt too forced.
But honestly, besides these problems, Olivia Twisted is not a bad read at all. Its realism really makes it stand out, and it does offer a pretty bleak view of life, as is only truly fitting for a Dickens retelling. I think it's just one of those "not my cup of tea" cases for me. However, I'd absolutely recommend Olivia Twisted for diehard Dickens fans or people who enjoy realistic contemporary.
* I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars