Disclaimer: Tom Carpenter contacted me and offered me a free copy of this book, requesting a review.
Pros: Characters are believable; plot is engaging and well-paced; the female protagonist is strong but flawed. All these are essential for a really great, immersive book. I liked it, but I didn't love it. If I could rate in half-stars, this would be 3.5, but I rounded up because I did enjoy the story and the characters.
Cons: There is a lot of gamer-specific language. I've been a gamer for years, so this didn't throw me off, but if you're completely unfamiliar with that subculture and its language, that could be a problem. Also, there were a couple of times when the niche language felt forced, like Carpenter was trying to work in a certain number of gamer terms per chapter.
The manuscript could have used a firmer editorial hand. I found at least two dozen typos, homonyms, odd word choices, and other things that pulled me out of the story. This happened frequently enough to be distracting from the story line. I found myself mentally editing the book for the last half or so. Carpenter also chose to end with a mild cliffhanger. If I like Book 1, I'll buy Book 2 without being left hanging. I prefer a bit more resolution in a book ending.
Is it worth reading? Sure. It's an interesting world that I haven't seen before. Will I read the next one? Probably, but I'm going to take a bit of a break and read something else.
Recommended for gamers and fans of dystopia and/or YA fiction, with the caveats noted above.