DiSemblance - Shanae Branham (Book provided by the author through ARR #110 in the We ♥ YA Books! group, in exchange for an honest review.)

I'm having a hard time writing this review, because I'd like to rate the book a little higher, but am not sure I should. In all fairness, I'd give the idea and story a solid 4 stars, but I wasn't too thrilled about the writing itself.

"DiSemblance" is a story that you need to pay attention to. Don't read it in a packed train, or juggling several things at once. It contains a lot of little details that are easy to miss if you're not focused, and that are the very ones which help you puzzle everything back together. The author definitely did a good job at blurring the boundaries here, and more than once you'll find yourself frowing at some plot point, reading back and wondering if there was a mistake... and no, there wasn't, everything's working according to plan. There's a point after which things become clear, and in hindsight what happened in the first part of the book suddenly makes total sense; and yet, even then, you keep on wondering what's true and what isn't, what's part of reality and what's make-believe. In that, I'll recommend this book if you like being bounced back from clue to clue without knowing clearly whether you've read those the right way or not. It's got quite an exciting quality.

Unfortunately, I had a harder time with the style and pacing. There's a lot of short chapters and sentences that give a jumbled feeling to the text as a whole, as well as what I'd deem "telling" about the characters and their actions rather than really showing them, which I found distracting (and as I said right above, this isn't the kind of story where you can allow to let yourself be distracted). Also, connecting with the characters proved difficult. They're interesting in their own ways, but with things moving so fast, I felt like we were only grazing at the surface, and as a result, I didn't empathize with Bruce, Lisa, Jason or Boston as much as I would've liked to. Part of this might be related to how limits between reality and virtual world(s) keep shifting—we never know if we're dealing with the real person or not—but I'm not sure it's the only, nor the main reason.

In terms of plot, the ideas explored within this novel, as well as how the author manages to carry us from beginning to end, are great. But I think it would benefit from more editing, to make it easier to focus on the story.