I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
It's all about steampunk these days. Well...steampunk and vampires. In this novel, the U.S. military has developed a very realistic virtual reality simulation to help soldiers become familiar with non-traditional battlegrounds and styles such as that in Afghanistan. The Demi-Monde was programmed to be an extremely realistic world filled with the economic, geographical and religious stressors common in today's battle arenas. To add a little something extra, the programmers added some of the world's most dangerous psychopaths such as Holocaust architect Reinhard Heydrich, Stalin, Torquemada and others. These individuals share control of the Demi-Monde. Instead of scarcity of water, oil or other resources, the programmers added in a need for blood. Now, these aren't vampires in the traditional sense of the word. Citizens of the Demi-Monde simply require a certain quota of blood in order to survive. They get these quotas at designated blood banks but only enough to survive. Not enough to quench their thirst for it. When the Demi-Mondians realized that the soldiers sent into their world could bleed (Demi-Mondians don't have blood), they began kidnapping them and holding them hostage in order to drain them. That was bad enough. And then the President's daughter was kidnapped and taken into the Demi-Monde. Now, young Ella has been recruited from our world due to her resemblance to Dup (all residents of the Demi-Monde are duplicated of real people) and sent into the Demi-Monde on a rescue mission to save the President's daughter. This isn't just any simulation. It's a matter of life or death.
This is the first in a planned series of four. It reminded me of THE MATRIX in many ways. I thought it was incredibly creative and I loved the introduction of the various historical figures and what happened when they were thrown together in a simulated environment. I can absolutely visualize this as a movie or television series. That being said, I don't think it as particularly well-written. I would recommend it more as a Young Adult level novel. It was interesting and entertaining but I wasn't drawn in enough to want to read any more of the series.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended with reservations. This is much more a Young Adult title although there is a great deal of violence and sensuality. Great for fans of both steampunk and the vampire genres. It was an entertaining read but my interest stalled out towards the end. I won't be reading the rest of the series.