Mindcull by K.H. Canobi

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Ford Street Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925804232.
(Ages 11-15) Recommended. In this futuristic thriller, 16 year-old Elia lives in a world where virtual reality is as much part of life as the real world itself. In fact, after her mother's death, her father becomes 'discordant', meaning he can no longer differentiate between the real and the augmented, leaving Elia to live with her mother's cousin Malcolm. Through the popularity of her social media V-clips, Elia is shortlisted to become the new face of Pearl, the world leader in Virtual and Augmented Reality design. Before she flies to England for the competition she is approached by the International Law Enforcement Agency who interrogate her about her best friend Mia who they believe has dangerous activist connections. The ILEA use this information to coerce Elia into spying for them when she enters the Pearl corporation. Elia and Mia overhear a conversation about a plot to kill the founder of Pearl, and Elia must decide where her loyalties lie, a difficult choice when she doesn't even know if she can trust her own thoughts.
It's always refreshing to read science fiction thrillers with strong female lead characters, and Elia's tendency towards shyness makes her more likeable. The terminology used to describe the technology in this book was interesting, being close enough to our familiar terms that you can instantly understand what is being described. This combined with relatable characters and fast-paced action make for an enjoyable read.
Donella Reed