The Leveller- Julia Durango

Synopsis: Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?



In the world of MEEP, Nix encounters a shark tank, an anaconda and man-eating vines, attacking pterodactyls, a giant scorpion family, skeleton armies, a zombie army, a minotaur, and a banshee/hag/witch (who rips out her heart 12 times or so). Nix is accidentally ‘mugged’. A Kraken causes shaking and grabs Wyn. Nix interrogates a spy, threatens her, and the spy disappears from virtual reality, assumed dead. Nix enters the Black, where she experiences great pain and terror. Throughout the book, Nix uses a variety of weapons; from guns and grenades to arrows and swords. There are several fights, moderately described.



One of Nix’s strategies to get gamers home, if they’re male, is to dress up in a seductive manner. Mention of people who enhance features in the MEEP to be more attractive. Nix wears a lower cut dress, and a character has trouble meeting her eyes. Several characters are flirt and are described as voluptuous. Nix and Wyn dance; Nix’s dress moves up to show leg and the comments. They act in love; kiss on the cheek. They kiss, sleep next to each other (nothing happens) while holding hands. They kiss later on as well.



There’s champagne at Thanksgiving, and Nix’s parents get tipsy. In MEEP, there are potions to heal or to enhance speed. A character smokes a cigar, Nix sips a daiquiri.



Mentions of d*mn and hell. A character tells another to b*tch somewhere else. Norwegian swear words are used; fyfean and rasshole. Nix trails off on a holy sh-. God is paired with thank-, -knows, oh-, oh my-, for-’s sake and praise the Lord. Minor name calling, freaking and heck.



Nix remarks that someone will be ‘struck dead by whatever god is on duty.’ Jokingly uses the term goddess.


Overall feel: An interesting world to read about, with a cute story. Though mild and not overt, the language may hinder some from picking up the book. With fictional (and terrifying) opponents, a mystery to solve, and a trap to escape, the story will not bore.

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