Vicarious

Vicarious

by Paula Stokes

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Overview

Vicarious by Paula Stokes

Paula Stokes weaves together a series of mysteries and the story of an unbreakable bond between sisters in this unforgettable high-tech thrill ride.

Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have always been inseparable. Together the two of them survived growing up in a Korean orphanage and being trafficked into the United States. But they've escaped the past and started over in a new place where no one knows who they used to be.

Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose's ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it's bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities in the city's hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you--for a price.

When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter is devastated. She won't rest until she finds her sister's killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the digital recordings her sister made, Winter isn't sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she'll have to untangle what's real from what only seems real, risking her own life in the process.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765380944
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 08/16/2016
Series: Vicarious , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,309,278
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: HL680L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Paula Stokes grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she studied psychology and nursing. In between her degrees, she spent a year teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. Paula is the author of several books for teens, including Liars, Inc.When she's not writing, she's reading, kayaking, hiking, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

Read an Excerpt

Vicarious


By Paula Stokes

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2016 Paula Stokes
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7653-8094-4


CHAPTER 1

THREE YEARS LATER

Rose is crowding me out as usual, the reflection of her slender elbow obscuring part of my face in the mirror. Her scattered powders and potions cover the marble vanity of the bathroom we share. They're made of all things bold and glittery, just like she is. In contrast, my neat little cluster of toothbrush, hairbrush, and eyeliner feels like an unruly child put in the corner.

"Move over," I say.

She's busy curling her eyelashes. I watch as she clamps a little torture device over one eye. People say we look alike, but what they mean is that we look alike except she's more striking. She has the same basic bone structure and pale skin, but bigger eyes, fuller lips, longer hair, and now, apparently, curlier eyelashes.

"You move over. I have plans tonight." Rose tosses the eyelash curler into the sink and blinks sweetly at my reflection before rummaging through the mess on the vanity to find a tube of mascara.

"Me too." I finger-comb my shoulder-length black hair, and then grab my eyeliner. A soft brush of black pencil across my lower lash line is usually all the makeup I wear.

"With Jesse Ramirez?" Rose wrinkles her nose at my pencil. "I could help you with your makeup."

"Maybe." I ignore her offer to slather me up with products. Jesse's not my boyfriend, and even if he were, I wouldn't waste time trying to impress him by masquerading as someone else.

"Winter," Rose starts, her voice getting that whole mothering tone like she's forty instead of twenty. "You know Jesse loves you."

"No he doesn't. We just work together, all right?" I've caught Jesse staring more than once, but I'm fairly certain his feelings are more practical in nature. He wants what all guys want. Too bad for him.

Rose blots her eyelashes on the back of her hand and applies a coat of shiny red lipstick. She looks like something out of a black-and-white movie. I've never seen a dress with so much fringe before.

"You should just give him some. See what it's like to be with someone who actually cares about you."

I flinch slightly as I tug at her scooped neckline, pulling up the fabric to cover her cleavage. "Maybe you should try not giving some to everyone you meet."

"Funny." Rolling her impeccably made-up eyes, Rose twists her curtain of black hair up under a white-blond wig. "I'm going to Inferno. Come by later if you want."

Inferno is the club in the building next door. I've been there only a couple of times since I turned eighteen three months ago. "Are you ... working?" I ask.

She smiles coyly. "Maybe."

"Then I'll just see you tomorrow."

Lately, Rose's idea of work has gotten increasingly provocative: modeling, club dancing, switch parties. Inferno holds a switch party every Saturday night. It's basically a make-out version of speed dating, where they turn out all the lights and everyone pairs up, hooks up, and then switches partners. As you can imagine, finding enough men isn't a problem, but the club usually ends up having to pay the women. Rose swears she doesn't let things go too far with anyone, that it's all about teasing and control, but sometimes I wonder. It's her body and she can do what she wants with it, but the thought of some dirty stranger's hands on my sister makes my insides wither.

I love Rose, but sometimes I don't understand her.

"When's your next therapist appointment?" she asks suddenly, as if the look on my face might indicate an impending breakdown.

"Why are you asking me that? You know I quit seeing her."

Rose arches a dark eyebrow. "I'm surprised you're getting away with that."

She means Gideon. He and Rose ended their relationship shortly after we left Los Angeles. Despite the breakup, they've remained friends and the three of us still live together in Gideon's penthouse. Which means now he's sort of our landlord, older brother, and boss rolled into one. It's complicated.

"He's so busy working that he probably doesn't realize I've stopped going," I say. This is a half-truth. My therapist's office seems to be a few weeks behind on billing, so that's why Gideon doesn't know I've been skipping sessions. "I'll make an appointment if I need to."

Rose acts like I might kill myself at any moment, but that's just her being dramatic. Maybe I was depressed in Los Angeles, but I got better once we escaped. My therapist here diagnosed me with PTSD, but even at its worst, it was never anything that serious. I just sometimes got my dreams confused with reality, or saw things a little differently than they actually were.

Now, other than the occasional nightmare or bout of anxiety, I'm fine. I don't need to waste time in Dr. Abrams's soothing blue-green office talking about how it felt to be repeatedly violated. Sometimes it's best to just move on.

"All right." Rose raises her hands in mock surrender. "You seem fine to me."

Rose lived the same life I did, but she doesn't have PTSD. No bad dreams, no missing memories. Sometimes I'm jealous that she seems to deal with everything better than I do. But then I'll catch her with this hollow look in her eyes and think maybe she just disguises everything for my benefit.

Maybe she's broken on the inside too.

She leans in to give me an air kiss on each cheek, and her jasmine perfume makes me sneeze. A row of shiny bracelets jangle against each other as she pulls a chunk of my hair forward from behind my left ear. It falls in front of my eye, kind of seductive-like. Satisfied, she smiles.

"I'm just going to put it in a ponytail." I lift my arm so she can see the plain black elastic band looped around my wrist.

She sighs deeply. "You're hopeless." She reaches out to hug me, and her warmth makes my rigid muscles start to loosen.

And then go tight again.

Sometimes when we touch, I flash back to the two of us huddled together in a tiny room in L.A. after one of our "dates." I'm sobbing. She's consoling. I'm hoping for death and she's demanding I stay alive.

She usually gets what she wants.

Rose spins around once to check her reflection in the full-length mirror mounted on the outside of the bathroom door. Fringe flares out from her slender body.

"Be safe," I say.

"But not too safe." Flashing me a grin, she sashays out into the living room.

Still trapped between here and thoughts of L.A., I grab the bar of soap and turn the faucet on all hot. Clouds of steam blanket the mirror as the scalding water turns my hands pink. I close my eyes and count to ten. My flesh protests, but I lather for another ten seconds and then rinse. The pain washes away the memories.

Someone raps sharply on the front door of the penthouse. It's probably Jesse, and I'm not ready. "Can you answer the door?" I ask.

No response. More rapping. I turn the faucet off and dry my hands on an embroidered hand towel. "Eonni? Did you hear me?" I head for the living room.

Our cat, Miso, sits just inside the front door, his black-and-white tail twitching with anticipation. Otherwise, the penthouse is empty except for a whiff of jasmine perfume. Rose must have left when I was washing my hands.

"I'll be right there," I call. I head into my bedroom and grab my lightweight Kevlar body armor from a hanger in my closet. I slide it over my head and pull the Velcro straps tight. Then I open the top drawer of the nightstand and pull out a stun gun and a pair of throwing knives.

I'm in a slightly different line of work from my sister.

CHAPTER 2

There's a black hoodie folded neatly on my dresser. Tugging it over my head, I slide the stun gun into the middle pocket. I grab a few other things I'll need for tonight and then head for the hallway, slipping my feet into a pair of boots just inside the front door. Miso is still sitting like a sentry, ready to welcome or pounce as needed. I peek through the peephole and see Jesse standing in the corridor. Like me, he's wearing all black. His brown hair is mostly hidden beneath a black knit cap.

I open the door. "Hi."

Jesse steps into the penthouse. "Moo!" he exclaims with a smile, scooping the black-and-white cat into his arms.

"Why do you insist on calling him that?" I ask. Miso squirms a little but then stretches his neck up so he can lick Jesse's cheek.

"Because he's cow colored, and he seems to like it."

I lean in and scratch Miso between his ears. He purrs, but his attention is solely focused on Jesse.

My lips twitch as I remember the day I found the cat prowling back and forth in front of the fireplace. I half thought he was some unfortunate test subject that had escaped from Gideon's study, which also functions as a lab. But Rose told me later she found him in the alley, starving and scared.

"Look at you," I say, patting Miso's little round belly. "Hard to believe you were ever homeless."

Miso gives me a baleful look and then licks Jesse's face again.

"That cat likes everyone else better than me," I mutter. I bend down to strap a knife to each ankle and tie my boots.

Jesse drops Miso to the ground and the cat wanders off toward the kitchen in search of food. "I like you," he says. "Even better than Moo, but don't tell him I said that."

I like Jesse too — at least I think I do. In a normal life, we might be going out for pizza instead of sneaking across town to commit a crime together. Sadly, broken people do not live normal lives.

Jesse fiddles with his hearing aid and it makes a sharp whistling sound. My eyes flick to his disfigured ear, to the jagged scar running from his left temple to his jawline. He's never told me about his injury and I've never asked. I heard Gideon telling someone once that it happened in the army.

"I almost never see you with your hair down." Jesse reaches out to pet my dark hair, his knuckles accidentally grazing my skin.

I slide away from his touch. In one smooth motion, I take the elastic band from my wrist and pull my hair through it. I double the band and tug until I have a short but secure ponytail. Jesse's lips curl upward and something stirs inside me. I find it disconcerting, the juxtaposition of his war wounds with a smile that projects so much warmth.

I am not warm. That is one of the reasons I chose the name Winter.

"Just a minute." Dropping to the floor, I quickly do twenty push-ups and then spring back to my feet. Exercise helps turn off all the extraneous thoughts in my brain.

Jesse lifts his legs behind him, one at a time, in a halfhearted stretch of his quadriceps. "You ready for this?"

"Yes." I peek out into the hallway to make sure it's empty. Gideon, Rose, and I are the only people who live on this floor, but college students occasionally come up here to try to get on the roof through the utility room window.

We walk down the carpeted hallway, past the elevator to the stairwell. The penthouse takes up the entire top floor of a fifteen-story building, but I always use the steps. I have a bit of an elevator phobia. They feel like tiny moving cages to me.

"Do anything fun lately?" Jesse asks as we start to descend the stairs.

I shrug. "Nothing special." The last few days are a blur of sameness. Wake up. Work out with Gideon. Eat. Study. Lift weights. Study some more. Gideon has been homeschooling me with online lessons since shortly after we moved here. I was agoraphobic at first, and both he and Dr. Abrams decided that placing me in public school would be detrimental to my adjustment process. Sometimes I think regular school would be fun, but I still get nervous in crowds. Navigating the packed hallways and common areas would be a struggle.

A heavy metal door opens out into the lobby of our building. Persian rugs lie over smooth marble tiles, and crystal chandeliers hang from the painted ceiling. A long wooden bar runs the length of the room, empty except for a pair of businessmen sipping from wineglasses. At the far side of the lobby, a half set of stairs leads to Escape, Gideon's gaming club. Escape boasts three big-screen virtual reality gaming setups, computers for online play, and private rooms for other activities.

Jesse and I head for the exit. We pass two more men in suits at the revolving door that leads out onto the street. At first glance they look like lawyers or bankers, but they're too young and their necks are too broad. Their haircuts aren't quite slick enough. Athletes.

One of them makes eye contact and nods. He's got the look of a farm boy — muscular build, tanned skin, clear blue eyes. Wholesome. I don't really follow sports, but I recognize him from clips on the news. His name is Andy something and he almost led the state university to the college football national championship, but then he fell apart in the fourth quarter and we lost. Tough break.

I nod back. I like people who aren't perfect.

"Hey," he says, his voice husky and low. His eyes cling to my form a second too long, as if we know each other, but I'd remember if I'd met him before.

A third man behind him nudges both of the players forward. He stares at me with dark, unfriendly eyes as the three of them pass by. He's also lined with muscle but too old to be an athlete. Probably a coach trying to keep his players from doing something stupid and making the late-night news.

"Friends of yours?" Jesse asks as we step out of the revolving door.

"Not my type." I exhale a foggy breath and pull on a pair of gloves.

We live in an area of St. Louis called the Lofts, bordered by downtown on one side and poorer neighborhoods on the others. It used to be nothing but abandoned warehouses, but a wealthy developer bought them, razed them, and erected several blocks' worth of high-rise apartments. Many of the basements and ground floors feature clubs, bars, or restaurants, and the whole area functions as both home and a playground to the city's richest residents.

Jesse and I head west, the shadows absorbing our black-clad forms. Shards of snow and ice crunch beneath the soles of our boots. In front of the next building, tight clusters of club rats huddle together in the cold, thin filaments of smoke emanating from the orange glow of their cigarettes. They're waiting to get into Inferno. It's where Rose said she was going.

A guy in a down-filled NFL parka and a knitted ski cap moves from circle to circle, hoping to be called upon to peddle his wares. When it comes to drugs, pretty much everything is available if the price is right.

The dealer catches me looking and takes it as an invitation. "What you need, baby?"

I avert my eyes but he shuffles over and walks beside Jesse and me. The sweet scent of marijuana clings to his oversize coat. "I got stuff to make the pain go away, stuff to make you forget."

"I'm fine," I say tersely.

"Sounds like you need something to relax." He yanks open the side of his coat and digs down in a pocket, producing a clear vial of fluid. "This shit'll take you to heaven and back."

"Back off." Jesse slides between us. "She doesn't need anything from you."

The dealer looks ready to start something, but then Jesse lifts his sweatshirt high enough to expose the grip of his gun. The guy turns away, muttering under his breath. A trio of college kids on the other side of the street call out to him. He shimmies his way between two parked cars and then saunters the rest of the way across the road, his high-tops disappearing in the fog of a steaming manhole cover.

We pass a group of girls in glitter makeup and sky-high leather boots, shivering in their short dresses. The damp glow of the streetlight illuminates wide eyes and skin that is soft and perfect. They're not old enough to get into the club, but they're going to try anyway. They look good; the bouncer will probably let them in. A prickle of envy moves through me as I watch three of the girls link arms and huddle together for warmth, giggling and smiling at each other. I haven't had friends like that since the orphanage.

The Lofts end abruptly at a vacant lot that sits in front of an old train yard. Two girls, one with a shorn scalp and the other with a matted braid, are spooning under a knitted afghan where the lot meets the sidewalk. Braid Girl opens her eyes just briefly as our shadows pass in front of her. They've got a coffee can full of change and a sign made from a cardboard box that reads: Ran away from abusive home. Please help.

"Wait," I say to Jesse. I reach into the front pocket of my jeans and slide out a twenty-dollar bill. I always carry a little cash on jobs, just in case. As I bend down to place the money in the coffee can, I notice that people have put trash in it while the girls were sleeping. I fish out a crumpled-up napkin and a candy wrapper and tuck the twenty deep inside.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Vicarious by Paula Stokes. Copyright © 2016 Paula Stokes. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Vicarious 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
marianneereads More than 1 year ago
Vicarious is a book that takes you completely by surprise, because had you read Stokes' previous books like Girl Against the Universe, or The Art of Lainey, you'd think this book would be another fluffy, entertaining read. However, if you’ve read Liars, Inc., you'll know that Paula has a knack for creating a thrilling and engaging story that'll have you completely addicted. The first thing that hit me about this book was that it’s so much darker than I’m accustomed of reading from Paula. Our heroine, Winter, is a victim of human trafficking. As such, we see hints of her being plagued with PTSD and depression. Basically, there’s a lot of darkness within her. I found Winter to be an unreliable narrator as well; she was suppressing a lot of memories from her past that would have made us understand her better, not to mention her search for her sister’s killers is at time reckless and frantic, which makes us more wary of everyone and everything at once. I loved Winter. She was damaged, it’s true, but she still found a way to go on and survive in her own way. I always have a problem classifying books as either mystery or thriller, but this book is easily both. Trying to uncover the mystery behind Rose’s murder is completely thrilling because not everything is as it seems. Winter uses Rose’s old ViSEs to try to find out what was going on in her life, using these recordings to put together different clues. This book had me going in all different directions, from gasping aloud, to covering my face, to having to close the book because I was too overwhelmed. I had a few theories in my head as to what was actually going on, but I wasn’t prepared for the actual reveal! I was shocked to say the least. As if mysterious thriller wasn’t enough, this book also has sci-fi! Through a neural sort of virtual reality headset, users can bungee jump, swim with sharks, rob banks, all without actually doing those things. Each ViSE is a different experience, and in Gideon’s nightclub, Escape, people pay the right price to live through these. This aspect is incredibly well done, integrating sci-fi seamlessly into the book. It was so well explained that I had no qualms to believe that it could actually be real. This book has a romance, one that I can totally get behind, too, but it’s very slight in comparison to the rest of the story. I was glad for this, because the focus was more on Winter and Rose’s relationship, on Winter deciphering her sister’s death, and also of Winter focusing on herself and her healing process. We see flashbacks of Winter and Rose’s pasts, and they’re things that aren’t easily forgotten and that can’t be cured by a romance. Overall, Vicarious is a dark mystery about a girl trying to figure out who killed her sister. This has twists and turns like you wouldn’t believe, addicting writing, incredible characterization, sci-fi, and diversity! I really do not know how I’m expected to calmly wait for the next book, Ferocious, without losing my mind. At least this is a duology, but I still cannot wait for book two!
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
I liked this book but not nearly as much as I had hoped I would. I live in the St. Louis area, so when I saw the cover of this book, I just had to read it. I put all of my other books aside when I picked this one up from my library and starting reading it right away. It turned out to be an okay read for me. I am glad that I read it but I wasn't blown away by it. One of the reasons that I read this book was the setting and I do have to say that I was a bit disappointed by the parts of St. Louis that made its way into the book. There is talk of some St. Louis clubs and to be honest I have no idea if they are real or not since my days of hitting the club are long over. There are a few other things mentioned but with a few changes this book could have really taken place anywhere. That's probably actually a good thing for most readers but I wanted more of St. Louis. I never felt invested in any of the characters. Winter Kim just didn't feel real to me and that made it hard for me to relate to her on any level. I should have been feeling her pain since she has been through a lot of terrible things that she is still having to deal with but I just didn't feel it. Jesse was probably the character that I liked the most in the story but I still can't understand how he could be as perfect as he seemed to be. The mystery was pretty good. There was a lot of stuff going on in the story so there were not any boring moments. I did guess the big twist pretty early on in the story even though I had hoped that something else would happen to prove me wrong. Books are really just more fun when you are not able to guess how everything will end. There were a lot of things that worked well for me in the book and there were a few things that didn't work as well. I was entertained by the book but I found it pretty easy to set aside. I do realize that I am not the target audience for this one and I am sure that my teenage daughter would probably like it a bit more than I did. I am not sure at this point if I will pick up the next book in the series or not.
KristyP13 More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I put off books that aren't standalones, or books that have sci-fi elements, thinking that I'll lose interest, but this was really good. Winter Kim and her sister Rose have had a rough life, starting at a very young age. Each time things seem to get better, they typically just get worse. Now they work as stunt girls/"recorders" for a company that sells ViSEs (Vicarious Sensory Experiences). These are popular for people who are willing to buy the experience of doing something adventurous like shark diving, or something like going to seedy sex parties at nightclubs, without actually having the risk. They just experience the feelings and adrenaline rush via the recordings. Rose seems to have disappeared and then a ViSE turns up, with a recording of her apparent murder. Naturally, Winter is now on a mission to find her sister (or her body). There are things that don't add up, secrets, twists in the plot, and lots of adventure!
Jazzie More than 1 year ago
A Fast-paced Mystery/Thriller Filled with Twists I received a complimentary copy from the author/publisher for an honest review, all opinions are my own Note: This review contains NO spoilers This is the a first for me reading any of Paula Stokes' books. I was drawn in by the synopsis of both Vicarious and Ferocious. But, let's talk about Vicarious! The synopsis alone boasted it's fast-paced adventure/thriller that played with the mind. And... I have to say that it does live up to it. I am so glad that I did read this! Where to begin, Paula Stokes wrote an interesting story with an interesting and mysterious plot. Filled with suspense and adventure, Vicarious also has dark undertones implying the very real issues that are really happening today. Paula, moreover, has written with a subtlety that drew me in to this dark-side of these characters lives without me even knowing that I am already captivated by the twists and turns of this book. Anyways, the setting alone already implies the dangerous world that Paula's characters survived and is living in. The development and detail to description to the characters drives this story filled with twists and turns that got me turning the pages. However, as for setting, it seemed a bit lacklustered. The suspense and mystery did kept me "gasping for air" since I just had to wrap my mind around it as answers/secrets were revealed. Yup! This definitely kept me riveted to the book. So, after all that, I was just "exhausted" after reading this! Haha... Yup! "Exhausted" from all the suspense and adventure, mystery, and danger that Vicarious put me through, page after page! Okay, now... Really!?! A cliffhanger.... pfft! Yes, the end of this book did have that cliffhanger which left me wanting more. It will leave with wondering what is next for Winter. Well, I will find out when I dive into Ferocious... Right?!?
MakennaFournier More than 1 year ago
I was so genuinely surprised by this book. I tried not too have too many expectations going into this book, but I was definitely a little worried that I might not like it because suspense/thriller/mystery books are not typically my favorite genre, but I was actually able to get into this one. It was definitely a little slow for me at time because this isn't generally my favorite genre, but other than that I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the characters, I thought the whole ViSE experience and making of them was SO interesting, and things ended up happening near the end that I SHOULD have expected, but I didn't, and oh man that ending. This is definitely my favorite Paula Stokes book that I have read so far, and it immediately had me waning the sequel.
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
I've read only one of Stokes's books earlier Girl Against the Universe, which had impressed me with its brilliant writing and portrayal of a girl with mental disorder, so I was optimistic about Vicarious. In the contemporary world of Vicarious, virtual reality tech is one step ahead and there is a new technology called ViSE, which provides a near complete sensory experience in a virtual setting. The main character, Winter, is a girl who works as a recorder, as in a person who goes through the experiences (which are usually something thrilling) and records them for the ViSE users. Vicarious provides a unique story in its setting, with Winter on the hunt for her sister's killers, using ViSE recordings as clues. Firstly, I have to gush a little about Winter herself. She is a fierce, badass protagonist who does adrenaline-raising stuff on a regular basis, yes, but she is also determined, loyal and clever. Her relationship with her sister defines her life, and kind of sets the plot for this story. She has lived in the shadow of her sister, who took care of her and raised her, and protected her when they were both victims of human trafficking, and naturally she looks up to her - a lot. Her motivations for solving her sister's murder are obvious, but as she gets further into the story, we start to realize that she is an unreliable narrator due to the trauma from her past experiences. I can't fully comment on the portrayal of PTSD, but it seems well-written into the plot. The culmination of all these circumstances makes for a story that fits her wholly. Getting past our protagonist, we have two supporting characters who are basically family to Winter - Gideon and Jesse. Gideon is like a parental figure to her, and though he seems involved in shady stuff, it cannot be denied that he cares for her immensely. Their bonding and the cultural emphasis of that bond is a cornerstone of their relationship. Jesse, meanwhile, is a difficult character to like at first, because of how Winter views him - his past is also a bit troubled and he has a slightly warped view on the world (pun unintended, really) - but he is also protective without being suffocating. When it comes to putting together suspects, however, their seemingly ambiguous moralities don't exclude them from her suspicion. The tech of the ViSEs is an interesting part of the plot, and while I expected more death-defying stunts (thanks to the blurb), it was a different aspect of the tech that the author focused on. It does sound like an impressive thing. I just had one issue with them - the seemingly portable nature of the collection sounds a little far-fetched. Also, there were some plot points that felt contrived (rather than organic) - like how Rose's death was not made to look like a suicide instead (which would have raised less questions, just saying). Those little things aside, though, the climax delivered a shocking twist - like, I was maybe expecting a small part of what was revealed, but it still pulled out the rug from underneath me! Finally, the book has a diverse set of characters and includes Korean cultures in a way that blends in well with the story-line. Winter and Gideon are Korean immigrants, Jesse is biracial and of Mexican heritage. The story also involves a good portrayal of PTSD and, uh, I'll keep the other one out of this review to keep it spoiler-free. It has a dark feel to it, which somehow doesn't fit in with regular YA contemporary or thriller books, but still does
chuagavin7 More than 1 year ago
Vicarious is a deviously deceptive book. There was so many plot twists that I do not even know what to believe. The last few pages was so hard to read because it is just so heartbreaking. I need the sequel right now because I need to know what happens next!
Theresajs More than 1 year ago
Where do I start... this book was amazing!!! I really liked Winter, the MC. She is strong and resilient because of her past! BUT, while she seems to have been able to move on, the more we learn about her, the more we find out how she really hasn’t. Her sister is murdered and Winter sets off to find out who did it, it’s during all this that we find out about Winter’s and Rose’s past. This book was very fast-paced and then bam, the twist that came out of nowhere! WOW!!! So much happened so fast towards the end! This book deals with a lot of things – human trafficking, PTSD, rape – but I felt were handled really well! I highly recommend this book (as well as Paula’s other books!)
amandastav More than 1 year ago
This book has everything I wanted from it. A badass female lead, cool technology, intrigue, mystery, action, even some swoony moments. I'll be totally honest, I'm a huge Paula Stokes fan in general. What's cool for me is how she can write something like Girl Against the Universe and then turn around and release something as different as VICARIOUS. Both are so incredibly well done! VICARIOUS has so many twists, turns, revelations, and feels. I highly recommend this book and I'm honestly in so much anguish waiting for FEROCIOUS to release.
fallxnrobin More than 1 year ago
It took quite a while for me to get into this book. For a good one-third of it (≈110 pages), I was thinking that maybe this book simply wasn't for me, maybe I should just drop it and move on. It certainly got better, but there were still some parts that didn't work out for me. 3.5 stars The premise is easy to understand: Winter and Rose have managed to escape their past and with Gideon's help, they started anew in the United States. Three years after their escape, they work for him, recording ViSEs. However, one day Rose did not return home and a ViSE recording of her supposed murder is found in their home. Winter sets out on a mission to unearth the truth behind Rose's death and find the killer but what she finds contradicts everything she thought was true. What is real? And what is not? Since Vicarious is written from Winter's perspective, we get a lot of insight into her thoughts and feelings and I easily empathised with her. We experience her internal conflict and see how her past contributed to her current mental state. Winter's past played an unexpectedly huge role in the story. She suffers from PTSD due to something that happened during their escape. So not only does she have to deal with her sister's death, she also constantly struggles with her past demons. I love the idea of ViSEs, and especially how it is portrayed in the world of Vicarious . It's a fairly new invention there so its distribution is not widespread. People don't simply own ViSEs, but they have to go to specific places and pay to use it. Plus, ViSEs don't transport you into a game or another world, but rather, another life. Want to jump off a waterfall or enter an extremely privileged club? Then a ViSE is your go to entertainment source. There's a bit of romance in here but it wasn't given much emphasis. It was one built on comfort and understanding and the kiss felt like a spur of the moment thing, so... yeah, it didn't work out for me. Another problem I had was that I just couldn't visualise the setting of this book. Because of the cover, I had imagined the city to look like Gotham city [https://media.giphy.com/media/11MV4pslCZ2Ogo/giphy.gif] (aka shrouded in eternal darkness and a morbid atmosphere) but it probably looks like any other city with their tall buildings and normal weather.
SarhMack More than 1 year ago
This book took me way too long to read for how utterly fantastic it was. Winter was a delightfully complex character who was also super badass and Jesse was so swoony. The idea of ViSEs being a thing sounds just super cool to have in real life, I would watch so many of them to do things my anxiety prevents me from doing. The mystery of Rose's death was so well crafted and kept me entertained and guessing the whole time. There was nothing predictable about the outcome of this book for me. There was the perfect amount of action and romance and mystery for me in this book. I kept guessing who I thought was behind it and what was going on and was so surprised and wrong when I found out. The entire story and mystery was so well crafted and connected. 100% looking forward to reading the sequel, because of Winter and Jesse. So perfect.
hoping4nash More than 1 year ago
This was SUCH a good read. Good YA thrillers are rare. This one is an exception---so much so that it will appeal vastly to adult readers as well. The overall story moves quickly and compellingly. Winter and Rose currently live in St. Louis, having fled with Gideon after being victims of human trafficking. They now work in a high tech new industry where virtual reality now includes actually feeling as if you are within this experience. While the technology is fictional, with Stokes' writing, you will have your heart racing in this twisty thriller almost as if the tech was real. After a burglary at the headquarters of the high tech company, they find a ViSE (virtual sensory experience) that suggests that Rose is dead. As the investigation takes place, Winter becomes more involved in the investigation. What unfolds is a fast pace and twisty wonderful thriller. The pace never truly slowed down. The ending had me literally standing up in disbelief. Get this one. It's too under the radar right now which is a shame because it is honestly ONE OF THE BEST YA books of 2016.
Ensconced_in_Lit More than 1 year ago
This book... where do I even start? This was by far one of my favorite reads of 2016. Vicarious by Paula Stokes stars Winter Kim, who does stunts while recording her neural impulses, which will then be used commercially for people to experience what she does... without the risk of actually injuring themselves. Winter, a Korean transplant, has had a difficult background, which I'll allow you to discover for yourself, but just let me reassure you, it feels authentic and is well done. Her sister has disappeared after a night of clubbing, and Winter will do anything she can to find her-- they've been through everything and Winter can't lose her now. My description barely even scratches the surface of this pulse-pounding thriller. It has everything I love, from a strong and very sympathetic but deeply flawed female main character to a sexy love interest to techie science talk that warms my geeky heart to plot twists that left me breathless and disoriented in the best way possible. I've read a lot and the fact that I couldn't guess where the book was going is super impressive. And the prose... I can't even get started on the prose, it's gorgeous, dark, and lush. I've loved every book Stokes has written, but there's something very special about this book and has her best writing yet. VICARIOUS by Paula Stokes is an ambitious, astonishing, and thrilling YA psychological thriller encased in a near future world-- a mesmerizing and seamless combination of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, GATTACA, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Just like Lisbeth Salander, Winter Kim is fierce, strong and troubled, but you'll have no trouble rooting for her all the way. Well-crafted characters, achingly beautiful (and quotable) prose, and a plotline that will keep you guessing until the very end. Take a chance on this phenomenal rollercoaster of a book, and you won't be disappointed. It's hands down the best book I've read all year.
jenelle_riane More than 1 year ago
I won an ARC of Vicarious from the author in a Twitter giveaway, and I'm so glad I did! Paula Stokes is so nice and sweet- and she made hand changes to the ARC (which she said not to look for because they're spoilery, and I'm glad I didn't because they were indeed spoilery :) I can say that I've never read a futuristic thriller-murder mystery like this one. The idea of having Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs, where you can record thrilling activities so someone else can experience it is so cool- trust me, if this were a real thing, I'd definitely be lining up to try it. Vicarious had really good world building, a great cast of realistic characters (plus yay for Asian characters!), a unique romance, a tight, fast paced plot, and a really good mystery! But that twist at the end!! I had my suspicions as to who the killer was- but I can say that my guess was really far. This book had the twist of all twists; I don't think anyone will be expecting the way Vicarious ended. Plus the way she spins the story so all loose threads actually end up being connected is pretty cool. The only downside to reading an ARC? An even longer wait for the sequel. The book wrapped up pretty nicely, with just a minor cliffhanger. YA seriously needs to have more books in the thriller genre. It's been a while since I've read a good mystery- would recommend this to fans of Gretchen McNeil! Wow. Been a while since I've written a review or read an ARC before it got released. :)
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Vicarious by Paula Stokes Book One of the Vicarious series Publisher: Tor Teen Publication Date: August 16, 2016 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have always been inseparable. Together, the two of them survived growing up in a Korean orphanage and being trafficked into the United States. Now they work as digital stunt girls for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, engaging in dangerous and enticing activities while recording their neural impulses for his Vicarious Sensory Experiences, or ViSEs. Whether it’s bungee jumping, shark diving, or grinding up against celebrities at the city’s hottest dance clubs, Gideon can make it happen for you, for a price. When Rose disappears and a ViSE recording of her murder is delivered to Gideon, Winter won’t rest until she finds her sister’s killer. But when the clues she uncovers conflict with the neural recordings her sister made, Winter isn’t sure what to believe. To find out what happened to Rose, she’ll have to untangle what’s real from what only seems real, risking her life in the process. What I Liked: What a twisted, mind-blowing novel! Part sci-fi, part thriller, this book was exceptional from start to finish. There were so many layers to the story, and to the protagonist, and I couldn't stop reading. I can't really pick out a "favorite" Stokes book, but this one is in my top two! Winter and her older sister Rose have escaped the orphanage in South Korea, and human trafficking in L.A. Three years after Gideon took her and her sister away from the trafficking, Winter has adjusted well to her life. She suffers from PTSD, but she's better. Gideon has created technology to capture neural impulses, which enables the ViSE (Vicarious Sensory Experiences) user to experience the physical feelings of something, like bungee jumping, or kissing another person. Winter has been doing stunts like jumping off bridges, and running from the police. Rose does something a little different... and one night, she doesn't return home. A ViSE is found in their home, and it's of Rose dying. Winter is determined to find the killer, but the clues are strange. Something isn't adding up, and Winter isn't sure what is real and what is not. I'm going to be honest - I wasn't sure I wanted to read this one. I've seen the author talk about the conditions that Winter struggles with in this book, such as PTSD, and more. I don't usually like to read books with "tough issues". Books dealing with addiction, rape, prostitution, and so on... I prefer not to read (it's too real, and I'm all about the not-so-real escapism!). But I've read Stokes' other six books, so I figured why not keep going (especially when the publisher drops a galley in your lap. Thank you, Tor!). I'd also like to thank my friend Pili, as this is my June '16 Pili-Pushed choice! Let's start with Winter. On the outside, she seems like an intense, somewhat cold/distant Korean girl. On the inside, she doesn't like to be touched, and she represses a lot of bad memories from her past. She and her sister have had terrible pasts, going from an orphanage to human trafficking, used as sex slaves. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
Wow. Wow. Wow. I don't even have words. There were parts that I didn't care for {the human trafficking history, obviously}, but it was handled well and this story was amazing. I had no idea what was happening the entire time. You guys are in for one heck of a ride.