After dying in a car crash, Lia’s brain was downloaded into a mech body — but things aren’t going so well for the mechs these days. After a fellow mech with her face went on a killing spree and a group called the Brotherhood devoted itself to destroying all mechs, Lia’s been forced to try and do some good PR — but it isn’t enough. Someone’s created a mech virus that shuts down and erases anyone infected. Now, to save all the remaining mechs, she has to team up with extremist Jude, her estranged younger sister… and the one person who hates her most in the world.
Since this is the last book in a trilogy, it’s kind of impossible to respond to without spoiling. So: major spoilers after this cut!
I reviewed Skinned, the first book in this trilogy, shortly after it came out, and read but totally failed to review the second. Whoops. As for the third… well. The more series I read, the more empathy I feel for the folks who write them. There are so many expectations built up that there’s no way to satisfy every reader out there, let alone wrap up every single thread. And unfortunately, for me, Wired falls somewhat towards the let-down ending side of the scale. That is to say, I really enjoyed the book as a book; but as the ending of a series, I was disappointed.
My favorite thing about Wired by far was Zo, Lia’s younger sister. The first book gives them an interesting dynamic — Zo was supposed to be in the car that crashed, but Lia had agreed to go instead, so Zo had to deal with the guilt of living while Lia changed (or died, depending on your view). They fought all the time growing up, but Zo obviously came to hate Lia as a mech. Lia spent most of the second book away from her family, but in this one she’s reunited with them, and the Big Family Revelation changes her dynamic with Zo entirely. I absolutely loved Zo in this book, and the relationship between the sisters was great.
The thing is, though, the Big Revelation also presents a totally reversal in the characterization of Lia’s parents. Through the first two books, her mother is shown as someone weak-willed who cries a lot; her father is strict, believes in hard work and contribution to society, and detests cheaters and thieves. As much as I enjoyed getting to see Lia’s mom kick some butt near the end, the same reveal that led to Lia and Zo’s relationship, the problem was, I wasn’t convinced by the event that flipped everything on its head. It seemed less like the reveal of an amazing secret and more like a narrative convenience.
More disappointing for me was the way the climax played out. It pulled from one element earlier in the book, which, as I’d read it, had me scratching my head a little. While it worked fine, it hadn’t felt as connected to the story overall, so when the climax played out I looked back and went, “Ah ha, that was why that random discovery was made.” But the climax itself is basically the very end of the book and happens very abruptly. As I reached it, I was shocked by how few pages there were left, because it seemed like there was still so much to resolve. And… well, very little actually got resolved.
What I mean is that, while the story ends, aside from happening very suddenly, it doesn’t feel like the series’ major question is answered or its arch is concluded. The central question in the series is about Lia’s personhood. Plenty of people think she’s just a machine, programmed to think it’s a person, but of course as readers we’re with her on the journey and side with her, that she is a person. Instead of ending that conflict, it’s side-stepped; the events that happen are all exciting, but there’s no sense that it tied back into the earlier question — and it’s an ending where Lia transforms, literally, from the character she’s been for thee books into something else entirely.
So I wasn’t thrilled. The book was a fast, interesting read, and the idea of the computer virus shutting down the mechs was interesting. But the book was probably the weakest of the three, and gets three and a half cupcakes, though the series as a whole is a solid four.
Tags: Robin Wasserman