Taken from Goodreads
Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet.
Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.
Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable.
By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.
I downloaded this book to my Kindle mostly because I follow the author on Instagram (@the_ya_gal), and also because it went on sale. The blurb interested me, but didn’t leave me with terribly high hopes. But I was proved blissfully, wonderfully wrong.
I’ll start with the few things that didn’t impress me, since the opposing list is much longer. The use of the term Geisha didn’t sit too well with me, probably because I feel it is an appropriation of the term. Bardley uses it to describe a Vestal (which is what Blanca is, they are the individuals separated from society and technology) who is not sold to a company for use in advertisements, but rather to an individual for personal use. It is HEAVILY implied, both indirectly and directly, that Geisha vestal service their purchasers in a sexual manner. A Japanese Geisha is a traditional entertainer who acts as a hostess to male patrons. They have a wide variety of skills which includes classical music, dance, parlor game (think board games and card games), and conversation. Their career is basically being a pleasurable dinning partner. There is a nasty habit in Western communities to consider Geishas to be something along the lines of a prostitute. This is completely ignorant and incorrect, and a stereotype that Genesis Girl indirectly supports.
A more correct term for Bardsley’s characters called Geishas would be Courtesan, which were well-educated and independent women associated with wealthy, powerful, or upper-class society men (usually clergymen) who provided luxuries and status in exchange for entertainment and companionship. Courtesans were very much in line with what we would view as mistresses and escorts, and would have been a much less appropriative and correct term. ANYWAYS. The only other thing that stood out to me as sub-par was the drag that occurred about a third into the book. It basically served as a mental break down for Blanca, which while I understand is necessary, still went slow and was a little difficult to read.
However, Blanca was my favorite thing about this book. She goes from seeing herself as a strong, secure character, to loosing everything she thought was true about herself and having to do a complete overhaul about her thought process and character, to becoming strong and secure in herself again. She was so dynamic, and she grows so much through the book, which is honestly my favorite thing to see in a female character. Lydia, the other prominent female character, also grows quite a bit. I will say that I did not see the male characters as dynamic as Blanca, but she steals so much of the show that in the end it didn’t really matter to me. This story is wholly hers, and that’s so wonderful.
The concept behind this story is also incredibly fabulous, although it scared me off at first. I was worried I would get the same force-fed, tech is bad becuase the youths are addicted to it bullshit. Bardsley however manages to bring forward the so true concept of balance, showing how technology enhances our life as well as hinders it, which is something Blanca learns in the course of the novel. This was such a refreshing message to have.
The ending was also SO. GOOD. Once Bardsley pulled us into her high stakes rising action it was a smooth shot of anticipation and impatience to get to the resolution, which was very satisfying I will say. There is a cliche plot twist thrown in there, but Cal and Blanca’s father/daughter relationship eclipsed it with all the warm fuzzies I wanted. The characters were just as wonderful as the story, all playing their own little mind games with each other that kept me interested in their dynamics and how everything would play out.
All in all, I feel like this is such a strong novel, and a unique one within YA. I’m still surprised how much I enjoyed it, as it isn’t usually a genre I pick out for myself. (I see this book as a YA psychological thriller.) But I guess that just stands as credit to Bardsley as a writer, since it takes a very compelling story to pull picky readers like me in. It’s one I would recommend, and one who’s sequel I will certainly be purchasing!