Eden, Eli, Marwan, and Ilanka barely know each other beyond having a class or two together. But when they are all summoned via messaging app to an empty classroom after school, they find a small cube sitting on a desk. Its sides light up with rules for them: Do not tell anyone about the device. Never leave the device unattended. And then, Take me with you . . . or else. At first they think it’s some kind of prank or a social experiment orchestrated by the school administration. Still, they follow its instructions until the newly-formed group starts to splinter. Nobody has time for these games–their lives are complicated enough. But the device seems increasingly invested in the private details of their lives. And disobeying its rules has scary–even life-threatening–consequences . . .
I stumbled across this book while pursuing Goodreads and was instantly intrigued. A small cube mysteriously shows up in four teens lives, providing them with a set of rules to follow. If they don’t, there are dire consequences. While I don’t read a ton of thrillers, this seemed like a great one to try out!
While I enjoyed reading this, it also left me a bit disappointed and frustrated. I feel like this book just touched the surface of what this concept. I was expecting more tension, more suspense, and more dramatics, but that’s not what happened.
I’ll start off by talking about the things I did like! The writing was one of them. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, but I feel like it was perfect for this kind of book. It felt very hard (I know that’s weird way to describe it) and straightforward. I felt like it complemented the technology and really highlighted the unknown, mysterious nature of the cube. I felt like the what the cube would be if it was a writing style. I know that’s weird!
I also liked the characters more than I thought I was going to. For me, when I read thrillers, I find I either like the plot and story or I liked that characters. I feel like it’s hard to have both. While I didn’t completely fall in love with them, I didn’t hate them, which I’m counting as a win! All of them had their own distinct voice and their own personal struggles.
Alright, I guess it’s time to delve into the things I didn’t love. The mystery surrounding the cube and where it ended up is one of the biggest ones. There were small parts that were creepy and I thought were wonderfully done. Small moments that sent chills up my spine and I think the overall concept is something fascinating and terrifying. But I don’t get where it went. I felt like it was leading somewhere and then went nowhere. I don’t get what the climax was supposed to be saying, I don’t get where all the strings tie together, I don’t get what everything was leading too. It just felt so disappointing. There were things that went nowhere and there were things that weren’t explained enough. Big things too! Things big enough that I thought this was going to be a series instead of a standalone. Just, I felt like so much more could have been done and then it just wasn’t. Maybe it completely went over my head, but I guess I wish it had ended differently.
I also feel like this book was trying to send multiple messages, but they didn’t quite fit? I didn’t quite understand why they were included they way they were. Mostly because they didn’t tie into the bigger picture a whole. They felt like they were just there, without any threads to connect them to the rest of the book.
The way the POVs were spaced felt sort of off to me too. All four teens get a POV, but two of them don’t get one until a good chunk of the way into the book. I was expecting something more uniform and it felt kind of all over the place.
All in all, I didn’t hate reading this book. It was interesting, even if it did have a disappointing ending. I can’t say that I loved it, which I hate, but maybe you’ll like it better than I did if you decide to give it a shot!
Thank you for reading!