Vicarious by Paula Stokes
Look! There’s an arch on the cover! It’s not very often that our own STL gets to be the setting of a YA novel so it was a no brainer for me to choose this book to read. Although the title seems a bit bland and nondescript (so many YA books sport one-word titles), it’s actually perfect. In this near future world, the tech exists for someone to be able to put on VR type goggles and live vicariously (get it? vicariously? Vicarious?) through someone else’s actual life experience. Would you love to skydive but you’re too chicken? You can pay some big bucks for a ViSE (Visual Sensory Experience). Would you kill to go clubbing with the hottest celebrities but you don’t know the right people? A ViSE can help. Gideon, the founder of the tech and Winter Kim’s guardian, hires people like Winter, Rose, Jessie, and a crew of other brave souls to participate in these and many, many other dangerous and exciting events and encounters and record them using a hidden headset. When Winter’s sister, Rose, is murdered, Winter is convinced her death had something to do with one of the ViSEs Rose recorded. Winter and her friend (boyfriend, if he had a say in the matter), Jessie, find all of Rose’s recordings and start looking for clues. Why doesn’t Gideon (also Rose’s ex-boyfriend in addition to Winter’s guardian) want Winter and Jessie investigating Rose’s death? Why did Rose keep it a secret that she was dating a future NFL star? Why is Winter beginning to experience more and more blackouts? Does it have something to do with the ViSEs or could it have something to do with her horrific experience of being a victim of human trafficking as a small, Korean, illegal immigrant. Winter, with or without Jessie’s help, is determined to find the answers.