Book Review: The Leveller by Julia Durango

Written by: Julia Durango
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Pages: 256, Hardback
Series: The Leveller, #1
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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?


So I’m a bit of of a gaming geek. I’m not a huge one; I’m not down at GameStop every release day trying to get the latest and greatest. I don’t know games like I know books. But I love to play them. (And anyone wanna talk some Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 theories? LAY THEM ON ME BECAUSE I AM SO CONFUSED) but beside the point. The point is that while I’m not a gamer like I am a book nerd, I really do enjoy days with my X-Box and nothing else. So when I first heard the idea of The Leveller I was so THERE. The technology that’s in The Leveller is coming, we all know it is, and as cool as that is, it’s terrifying too. The Leveller talks a lot about that, about how amazing this technology could be, and the downside, how bad this technology could be. Not that I think that’ll stop people from creating this technology anyway.

The Leveller follows Nixy who can get kids out of games after they hack the game so they can stay in the world longer than the allotted four hours the MEEP allows. Everyone does it, so what’s the harm right? But when she’s asked by her parents bosses-boss-boss, aka the creator of the MEEP, she’s in a bit over her head. His son has left an apparent suicide note and is now lost within the world of the game. Ignoring some other parts (that are discussed in the book, but I won’t get into here) the plot is actually quite simply set up. That’s sort of the thing about The Leveller. It’s simple.

So simple in fact that I started around 5 in the evening and finished just after midnight…that time also included, grooming a pig, working on a fish tank, eating dinner, and watching a TV show. That should tell you something as a whole. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, what say you we jump in a bit more in depth?


While there are good things to be said about simple plots, there are bad things to be said about simple plots as well. There was a nice plot twist at the end, I’ll admit that, but overall it was a very simple book. I feel like this book could’ve been a lot more than it was. I feel like there could’ve been some amazing twists and turns and instead it was more of a point A to point B type book. Except it held to some darker themes so in that it wasn’t even so simple to as be a younger book.

Not that this didn’t work, exactly, but it bugged me about the series. That is, the names that Julia came up with for her book… I get it, she gives reasons why the characters have weird names but naming your main character Phoenix is still a little odd.


While I mentioned the simple plot in the didn’t work, it should be mentioned here in did work as well. Because the plot never tried to be more than it was….Okay that’s probably confusing isn’t it? I just mean that The Leveller knew what it was, knew what it wasn’t, and was able to successfully stay in that happy middle ground. I’m just gonna leave this point now that I’ve confused everyone.

I liked the characters of this novel. There wasn’t a lot of development in this book; if anything there was anti-development. Nixy starts out this really strong and secure character and throughout the book looses bits of that, it even works its way into the narration that she realizes she’s losing bits and pieces of herself. All of which makes me excited to see where this book series could go in the future, I’d like to see her get built back up stronger than ever, of course. I liked Nixy’s character especially. She often talked about some hard hitting points not just within the world of the book, but actually our world, which in some ways was surprising because of how light this book could be, but it also became one of my favorite parts of this book.


Overall The Leveller was a really light easy read that kept me turning pages. I’m excited to see where this one gones. While it wasn’t a perfect book, for the time commitment that was involved it isn’t a bad deal at all!


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