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Publisher's Summary

One young woman faces down an all-powerful corporation in this “profound…resonant” (NPR), all-too-near future science fiction debut that reads like a refreshing take on Ready Player One, with a heavy dose of Black Mirror.

Ready Player One meets Cyperpunk 2077 in this eerily familiar future.

“Twenty minutes to power curfew, and my kill counter’s stalled at eight hundred eighty-seven while I’ve been standing here like an idiot. My health bar is flashing ominously, but I’m down to four heal patches, and I have to be smart.”

New Liberty City, 2134.

Two corporations have replaced the US, splitting the country’s remaining forty-five states (five have been submerged under the ocean) between them: Stellaxis Innovations and Greenleaf. There are nine supercities within the continental US, and New Liberty City is the only amalgamated city split between the two megacorps, and thus at a perpetual state of civil war as the feeds broadcast the atrocities committed by each side.

Here, Mallory streams Stellaxis’s wargame, SecOps on BestLife, spending more time jacked in than in the world just to eke out a hardscrabble living from tips. When a chance encounter with one of the game’s rare super-soldiers leads to a side job for Mal—looking to link an actual missing girl to one of the SecOps characters. Mal’s sudden burst in online fame rivals her deepening fear of what she is uncovering about BestLife’s developer, and puts her in the kind of danger she’s only experienced through her avatar.

Author Kornher-Stace’s adult science fiction debut—Firebreak—is a “fight song in praise of fierce friendship and the strength to endure” (Amal El-Mohtar, Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author of This Is How You Lose the Time War) loaded with ambitious challenges and a city to save.

©2021 Nicole Kornher-Stace. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Brentan's narration is easily the stand-out element of the audiobook; her earnest delivery catches the ear. She captures character voices with aplomb while keeping the action taut and tense." (AudioFile Magazine)

What listeners say about Firebreak

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glad I took the chance

I took my chances on an unrated book based on the description. I'm glad I did. This book was very well written, excellently narrated, and suspenseful almost the entire time. I could see someone making a movie out of it one day, something in the same vein as Hunger games.

Don't pick it up expecting a litRPG, because the VR game has a relatively small role in this book, which is mostly about fighting back against an all powerful corporation which controls everything. I think my least favorite part was the last hour and a half. I had to suspend my disbelief more than once when it came to character and corporation motives, and the ending didn't resolve the major conflicts of the book.

9 people found this helpful

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3 weeks later and still thinking about the story

First off: I had some attention span problems during the pandemic, and haven't really been able to stick with any books or audiobooks for a while and somehow this story managed to grip me enough to basically break that.

The characters are incredibly compelling, the action had me at the edge of my seat, and the world feels kind of like an updated version of Orwell's 1984 setting rather than Ready Player One, with corporations calling the shots instead of nations themselves. This story is my favorite of the year so far easily, and if you're considering picking it up, you probably should.

6 people found this helpful

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Action packed, well acted, heartwarming friendship

Enjoyed this story immensely, and couldn't put down when I reached about half way through. One of those stories with a heroine fighting against all odds, and you find yourself rooting for her to win, to carry on and to save her friends. The author built a believable, interesting world, and the plot just keeps picking up steam. I liked how it wrapped, except I thought..... spoiler alert...

-I thought the connection between Mal and 22 would be revealed and it wasn't. I guess she just vibed with his personality and it was nothing more drawing her to him than that? I thought she'd find out he was her brother. oh well, still liked it. :)

4 people found this helpful

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a beautiful story, but not without faults

Beautiful, often unexpected story. Enjoyed it very much and would recommend it, despite some obvious flaws including mediocre world building and some less than realistic elements.

3 people found this helpful

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What? Really? I'm putting this book down.

So the plot and the life of the main character depends on her Avatar showing up in a Counter-Strike type game controlled and made by the people who are trying to kill her? simply put what? suspension of disbelief blown right out of the water no way I can continue this.

2 people found this helpful

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Maybe for the shallow end of the YA genre?

The author seems to only have a cursory knowledge of sci-fi/cyberpunk tropes and is lacking any technical details this story needs. Far too many logical leaps and character inconsistencies.

Good narration though.

1 person found this helpful

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Restarted It

I finally finished "Firebreak" after months of being on pause on my audio player. I've been putting all of my hobbies on hold, including reading and I have a backlog of books that I want to get to. Restarting this book was a good choice because I thought this was a decent science fiction story, even though it's geared toward teens.

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dramatic narrative with lazy world-building.

The vibe is a bit preachy, and the poverty of the main character doesn't mesh well with her occupations. The combination makes for a confusing world, one that feels both conventionally mundane and dystopian without any real explanation.

Also, she uses the phrase "like a movie" way too often, a lazy way to describe something. It feels like it's written for the sole purpose of becoming a D-list movie itself.