Middle Grade Reviews · Young Adult Reviews

Review: Jinxed by Amy McCulloch (Amy Alward)

jinxed

Extract:

I think about Companioneers Crescent, the road we would have moved into if my dad had not … disappeared. If I’d gotten into Profectus, I could have guaranteed a good life for Mum and myself. A big house. A good job for life. Life-long benefits. But once I graduate St Agnes I will have to leave Monchaville, or else get a Moncha job suitable for a beetle baku owner.

(Jinxed by Amy McCulloch.)  birdSynopsis:

Lacey Chu dreams of working for Moncha, the technology company responsible for creating baku. Baku are like pets, except they also function as a smart-phone. Nearly all employees at Moncha came through Profectus Academy. When Lacey receives a rejection it seems like the end of the world. She’ll be stuck at St Agnes school with a low-level baku. Her future is over.

Then Lacey finds and repairs a cat baku and her life starts to change. First she receives a notification that the rejection was a mistake. Lacey is off to Profectus with an extraordinary baku.

What is Jinx? Is he an ordinary robotic pet or does he have a secret? Could that secret endager everything Lacey has worked for?

birdReview:

An action-packed adventure from the creators of The Potion Diary. Jinxed is the first book in an exciting new series. We’re all addicted to our smart-phones. Sometimes this comes at the expense of interaction with other people and with the world around us. Jinxed takes this truth and builds on it. What if someone found a way for our smart-phones to behave like real animal companions?

Profectus is a great setting. It is an anti-Hogwarts. Instead of arriving and finding the house where you belong, students at Profectus are constantly pitted against each other to prove themselves number one. This competitive environment and the elite nature of the school made some interesting commentary on social advantage. This theme is continued with the bakus – to achieve anything in life, people need a level 3 baku but this is out of reach on most salaries. I will be interested to see whether this theme returns later in the series because it has been set-up as something of an undercurrent to the main action.

Lacey is a believable character. Lots of her story centres around her conflict. She is so driven to achieve her single dream that it sometimes overshadows other areas of her life. Moving to a new school separates her from her long-time friend and school-life quickly takes over. Students at Profectus are forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement – they swear not to reveal anything they are taught about Moncha. There are secrets at Moncha which certain people would rather keep under wraps.

Jinx is nothing like other baku. He refuses to follow commands and is always ready with a smart answer. Some interesting questions are raised about artificial intelligence. At what point does simulated life become real life? That Jinx is a robotic cat is perfect – cats are independent-minded.

An excellent story and a wonderful start to a series. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

 

Thanks to Simon and Schuster UK Children’s Books for my ARC. Opinions my own.

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