Repo Virtual
The city of Neo Songdo is a Russian doll of realities — augmented and virtual spaces anchored in the weight of the real. The smart city is designed to be read by machine vision while people see only the augmented facade of the corporate ideal. At night the stars are obscured by an intergalactic virtual war being waged by millions of players, while on the streets below people are forced to beg, steal, and hustle to survive.Enter Julius Dax, online repoman and real-life thief. He’s been hired for a special job: stealing an unknown object from a reclusive tech billionaire. But when he finds out he’s stolen the first sentient AI, his payday gets a lot more complicated.

Repo Virtual Details

TitleRepo Virtual
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 21st, 2020
PublisherTor.com
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Cyberpunk, Fiction

Repo Virtual Review

  • Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
    January 1, 1970
    4.0 StarsIts always a great feeling when one of your most anticipated books lives up to the hype! Repo Virtual was exactly the futuristic cyberpunk heist I wanted! The world building in this one was absolutely fascinating. I loved how the virtual reality overlay that obscured, but did not completely, hide the poverty and crime of the world. The world just felt so real and gritty. I think this would be an excellent book to recommend for fans of the new video game, CyberPunk 2077. Another one of 4.0 StarsIt’s always a great feeling when one of your most anticipated books lives up to the hype! Repo Virtual was exactly the futuristic cyberpunk heist I wanted! The world building in this one was absolutely fascinating. I loved how the virtual reality overlay that obscured, but did not completely, hide the poverty and crime of the world. The world just felt so real and gritty. I think this would be an excellent book to recommend for fans of the new video game, CyberPunk 2077. Another one of my favourite aspects of the story was the artificial intelligence angle. This perspective was written in such an interesting and unique way, which made for a very engaging experience. The narrative explored the ideas surrounding personhood in a thoughtful, and sometimes humorous, way. I only wished this part of the story began earlier in the book so that I could have spent more time with the AI. Finally, I have to mention the diversity in this book. Within this narrative, I found people of colour, ethnic minorities, non-binary people as well as gay and lesbian characters. These aspects of the story were never the focus, but simply included as normal aspects of society.This book is definitely written as a standalone, but (for the first time ever) I actually found myself hoping for a follow up novel because I want to spend more time with the characters and world. I would recommend this one to anyone wanting a diverse, gritty and humorous heist story with some excellent world building. Disclaimer: I received a digital copy from the publisher, Tor.com
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    SCREAMING-------------------------COREY J. WHITE WRITING A FULL-LENGTH NOVEL ABOUT A CYBERPUNK HEIST TAKING PLACE IN REAL AND VIRTUAL REALITIES IN THE HUNT FOR A TRUE AI ASLDFKGHAS I CANNOT EVEN.
  • Jason Pettus
    January 1, 1970
    The most frustrating thing about being a fan of a genre publisher, like I am with the science-fiction press Tor, is that for every amazing book they put out, we have to wade through ten mediocre ones, designed mostly for hardcore superfans who burn through a book a day and therefore have a much lower standard of quality than we do, essentially the literary equivalent of bingeing an entire season of Law & Order over a weekend because we're too lazy to get off the couch, and the show provides The most frustrating thing about being a fan of a genre publisher, like I am with the science-fiction press Tor, is that for every amazing book they put out, we have to wade through ten mediocre ones, designed mostly for hardcore superfans who burn through a book a day and therefore have a much lower standard of quality than we do, essentially the literary equivalent of bingeing an entire season of Law & Order over a weekend because we're too lazy to get off the couch, and the show provides the barest minimal excuse we need to indulge ourselves. Take Corey J. White's Repo Virtual for a great example, part of that nostalgic retro obsession with '80s and '90s cyberpunk that seems to be coursing through the industry right now. This novel feels like White tore through the complete '80s work of William Gibson one summer, loved it and wanted to try one of his own, but couldn't come up with any original ideas himself, so just threw Gibson's books into a salad spinner until all the pieces came out in a slightly different order than before. To be clear, that doesn't make this a bad book at all; indeed, that's precisely the problem, that it's just middlebrow decent enough that it will never offend anyone, but by definition will never be memorable to anyone either. It's a perfectly fine choice for a convention-going fanboy who's looking for something to kill a random Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon; but for the rest of us, you can go ahead and start the countdown from nine now, until we're ready for another astounding title from this high-volume publisher.
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  • Holly (The Grimdragon)
    January 1, 1970
    "Thousands of hours spent creating a universe for people to war over. Millions of people spending billions of collective hours fighting imaginary wars. Mining digital ore to build digital ships--every atom in the universe accounted for, artificial scarcity through detailed simulation. For eighteen years the simulation held. Children grew up inside it. They learned math through transactional trial and error. They learned spelling, comprehension, cusses and slurs through in-game chat channels.It "Thousands of hours spent creating a universe for people to war over. Millions of people spending billions of collective hours fighting imaginary wars. Mining digital ore to build digital ships--every atom in the universe accounted for, artificial scarcity through detailed simulation. For eighteen years the simulation held. Children grew up inside it. They learned math through transactional trial and error. They learned spelling, comprehension, cusses and slurs through in-game chat channels.It was just as real as the real, sometimes more so.It was real until it wasn't.It was real until the heat-death of that digital universe, locked forever inside a server farm in the formerly United States of America, data degrading year by year until only a corrupt reality remained.Corrupt reality? Which one? This one?"Repo Virtual is the first full-length novel from Corey J. White.When I heard that White was writing a new book, I was excited to see what else he has up his sleeve as a fan of his criminally underrated series, The VoidWitch Saga. I had the opportunity to interview him before the final installment, Static Ruin, was released. He briefly mentioned that Repo Virtual would be the next book and that it's an updated look at the cyberpunk subgenre.With hackers, AI heists and found family, it certainly has many aspects that I adore! And robot dogs. WHO DOESN'T WANT TO READ ABOUT A ROBOT DOG?!Julius Dax, aka JD, is a thief and online repo man in the city of Neo Songdo. Neo Songdo is a city in Korea that blurs the line between reality and virtual life, melding together computer-generated digital elements into our real world environments. Zero Corporation is a massive tech company that runs the worlds largest online simulation, Voidwar.JD is a schemer, hustling his way through life. Barely scraping by, he is unable to pass up the chance to make a fuck ton of money by stealing a package containing a computer virus from the reclusive billionaire, Zero Lee."Too late, Enda realized that perhaps she shouldn't have throat-punched the messenger."Themes of racism, chronic pain, corruption, religion, capitalism, technology advancement. Repo Virtual was a bit of a mixed bag overall. Like a cyberpunk echo chamber of Snow Crash and Ready Player One, but with much-needed diversity. Unfortunately, White didn't expand upon the glorious representation he had at his fingertips. The biggest letdown was the depiction of Soo-Hyun, JD's stepsibling. Soo-Hyun is an enby character who basically exists in order to develop JD's narrative further. They are a plot device, a puppet in JD's play, if you will. This was a missed opportunity to fully flesh out someone who is frequently underrepresented.Repo Virtual is a solidly entertaining read that gives a necessary shakeup to the otherwise clichéd character tropes often found in cyberpunk. However, the mark was missed when it comes to reinvigorating the canon plot, introducing magnetic personalities, diverse characters with agency and bringing something uniquely original to the (often intimidating) SFF table.(Thanks to Tor.com Publishing for sending me a copy!)**The quotes above were taken from an ARC & are subject to change upon publication**
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  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    The city of Songdo blurs the line between virtual reality and the real; a smart city designed to be viewed through a rig with all the trademarks of a corporate facade, complete with plenty of advertisements.The population steals and hustles on the streets to survive while the Zero Corporation continues to control the world, both virtual and real.Julius Dax (JD) is an online repoman trying to make ends meet.  In need of enough money to cover a knee surgery and pay off debts, JD can't turn down a The city of Songdo blurs the line between virtual reality and the real; a smart city designed to be viewed through a rig with all the trademarks of a corporate facade, complete with plenty of advertisements.The population steals and hustles on the streets to survive while the Zero Corporation continues to control the world, both virtual and real.Julius Dax (JD) is an online repoman trying to make ends meet.  In need of enough money to cover a knee surgery and pay off debts, JD can't turn down a job willing to pay fifty thousand euro.  All he has to do is steal a piece of software that was stolen from the inventor.The problem is that the tech billionaire behind Zero Corporation is the person in possession of the software and the inventor is an influencer named Kali who has created a commune to preach her disgust for the system and belief in the power of AI.Stealing the software isn't overly complicated with the right team but the plan changes when JD realizes the software is actually a sentient AI that could change the future of the entire world.Neither Zero Corp or Kali are aware that the software is actually the first sentient AI in existence but they both know it's powerful enough to fight (and even kill) for.  JD pulled off the heist but now he has to bring down his pursuers to save the world from their further influence.There isn't a shortage of cyberpunk heists these days which means Repo Virtual is right on trend in sci-fi publishing.  The problem for me is that it gets lost in the genre with the same old storyline:  a team of rebel outcasts pull off a dangerous heist and then have to save the world from villains using tech.The worldbuilding was weak and I struggled to understand certain scenes for lack of detail.The caricatured villains lacked depth and I rolled my eyes at the nonsense that Kali offered up.  Zero Corporation and Kali never felt like real threats.I did enjoy the action scenes, diverse character representation, and overall atmosphere despite subpar worldbuilding.Repo Virtual doesn't stand out as exceptional among the recent cyberpunk releases but it's still an entertaining addition to the genre.Thanks to Edelweiss and Tor.com for providing me with a DRC in exchange for my honest review.  Repo Virtual is scheduled for release on April 21, 2020.For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
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  • Mackenzie (bookish_black_hole)
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating: 3.5First things first (I'm the realest). Sorry, whenever I say that phrase, that lyric from Fancy always pops into my head. Anyway!! My point was I first wanted to focus on the premise - a heist? An AI? Yes. Two of my favorite things. I went into this book being pretty sure I would love it. Sadly I didn't quite LOVE it, but I still did enjoy it a lot.The book is split into three parts, but I would say the split is more like two main arcs. The first is the heist part, which lasts Actual rating: 3.5First things first (I'm the realest). Sorry, whenever I say that phrase, that lyric from Fancy always pops into my head. Anyway!! My point was I first wanted to focus on the premise - a heist? An AI? Yes. Two of my favorite things. I went into this book being pretty sure I would love it. Sadly I didn't quite LOVE it, but I still did enjoy it a lot.The book is split into three parts, but I would say the split is more like two main arcs. The first is the heist part, which lasts about the first third of the novel. The second is the post-heist, the investigation of the heist and exploration of the AI.I thought for sure I'd be hooked by the beginning - I mean, it's a heist! I love heists. But it draaagged and I wasn't that invested!! I had a hard time connecting and feeling anything for the characters. The world was also super interesting, but confusing! As the book went on I kind of got more of a feel for it, but at the beginning I was confused and couldn't picture it well.However, the second part felt TOTALLY different. I LOVED it. The main difference was that there was the introduction of two characters - Enda and the AI - who really made the difference for me. I love them both. Enda is a badass bitch and takes no shit and is totally awesome - and flawed in a way that is realistic and makes her interesting to read about. The AI character is also great. For one, because I just love AIs. But two, because since you get to read from its perspective, you get to literally watch it develop a personality. That was honestly so interesting and cool to read. Also, the pacing in the latter 2/3 felt much more even, and I wanted to keep reading to know what happened. There were more pieces and it was more complex than the simple beginning heist, and I think that made a big difference in it just being more interesting. As I said, the world also became clearer, probably just because of having been immersed and reading about it for longer. I think my main issue with this book that prevented me from loving it was really the characters. As I said, I only really connected with Enda and the AI, and they don't show up until at least a third of the way through the book! That makes a large part of the book hard to enjoy.I also want to talk about one particular character, Soo-hyun, who is nonbinary. Having that sort of diversity and representation on page is great, however what isn't great is that I felt like this character didn't have much agency of their own. They seemed to exist to only be used by other characters, namely one of the antagonists. This isn't a good thing for any sort of character, but it makes me especially uncomfortable when it's the one nonbinary person.I think many people will be able to love this book, and I'm sad I'm not one of them! But as I said, I still did enjoy reading it and I do want to try more from this author!
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  • rachel ☾
    January 1, 1970
    ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[racism & racial slurs, classism, transmisia, deadnaming, misgendering, blackmailed outing*, alcohol consumption, recreational drug use mentioned, blood & gore depiction, graphic physical injuries, chronic pain due to an old injury, gunshot wounds, death of a friend (op), murder, attempted murder, torture, physical assault, explosions, gun violence, strangulation kidnapping, hostage situation, cult, car accident, fire, blackmail, flood, war themes ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[racism & racial slurs, classism, transmisia, deadnaming, misgendering, blackmailed outing*, alcohol consumption, recreational drug use mentioned, blood & gore depiction, graphic physical injuries, chronic pain due to an old injury, gunshot wounds, death of a friend (op), murder, attempted murder, torture, physical assault, explosions, gun violence, strangulation kidnapping, hostage situation, cult, car accident, fire, blackmail, flood, war themes mentioned, animal death mentioned, poverty themes, and homelessness mentioned. note: one of the queer protagonists is blackmailed to investigate a crime by a man with documents that would out her as a trans woman (hide spoiler)].▷ Representation: JD (mc) is black, queer (mlm) and has a chronic knee injury; Troy (li) is black, queer (mlm) and has vitiligo; Enda (mc) is a sapphic trans woman; Soo-hyuan (mc) is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns; other queer, disabled and poc scs.◯ Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Blog • Goodreads • Twitter • Instagram
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  • Enso
    January 1, 1970
    Repo Virtual is a cyberpunk novel for our times, if I do it a disservice by calling it "cyberpunk." As many have noted, cyberpunk both hasn't aged well but is also stayed relevant, in tone if not always in detail, due to the continuing present our world has evolved into over the last 40 years since it began. Repo Virtual isn't your daddy's cyberpunk (that would be me, children). It sees the world that we live in now and turns it to "11." MMO's? Check. Rampant late stage capitalism? Check. Repo Virtual is a cyberpunk novel for our times, if I do it a disservice by calling it "cyberpunk." As many have noted, cyberpunk both hasn't aged well but is also stayed relevant, in tone if not always in detail, due to the continuing present our world has evolved into over the last 40 years since it began. Repo Virtual isn't your daddy's cyberpunk (that would be me, children). It sees the world that we live in now and turns it to "11." MMO's? Check. Rampant late stage capitalism? Check. Degradation of the human spirit as well as the environment? Check. An awareness of the potential of AI as well as the limits of our thinking on what it would be to make a person? Check. A jaded awareness of how our dreams for a silicon future, shiny and chrome, have been ground into the dust and garbage underfoot, only to be replaced with the unending boot of servitude that stamps on those dreams? Check.JD, our "hero," is just trying to get by in a world where people get less and less and are constantly replaced. Betrayed by family, jaded by life, he makes his living either servicing shitty robots or in virtual repossession in Eve Online on Steroids in a city where the game's company literally owns the economy and government. He encounters something miraculous and makes decisions, both inane and gifted, but clearly holds onto the hope for a better world as well as giving some folks what they might have coming. This was a fun read and quite different than Corey White's previous works (which I do recommend without reservation). I can only hope this work inspires others to reexamine how cyberpunk or its bastard offspring really do have something to say about our current condition, as we all live in our Zoom-mediated, pandemic ridden world watching a senile reality television star pretend to govern the world's preeminent nuclear power.
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  • RG
    January 1, 1970
    Cyberpunk seems to be slowly creeping back into current Scifi novels. This pretty much mashes up most of whats been done before into a more straight forward story of rebels or outcasts bringing down the mega corps. The action was great, the character representation was well done, however the story was a little cliched. I also found the villains to be one dimensional. Good but there's much better scifi being written.
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  • Liz (Quirky Cat)
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of Repo Virtual through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Repo Virtual is the latest novel to come out of the mind of Corey J. White, and it is a piece of speculative fiction involving augmented realities, heists, and sentient software. Julius Dax survives in a world of technology and danger by maintaining two jobs. One involves him repossessing ships online, and the other? Well, let's just say that in the real world, he's a bit of a thief. You do what you I received a copy of Repo Virtual through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Repo Virtual is the latest novel to come out of the mind of Corey J. White, and it is a piece of speculative fiction involving augmented realities, heists, and sentient software. Julius Dax survives in a world of technology and danger by maintaining two jobs. One involves him repossessing ships online, and the other? Well, let's just say that in the real world, he's a bit of a thief. You do what you have to do to survive, right? That's where this story begins. A heist has been dropped in his lap, courtesy of his estranged sibling. Naturally, that means that things are about to go to hell, but the adventure will certainly change JD's life forever. “Kali wrote a piece of software that will change the world but someone stole it from her. All you've got to do is steal it back.” Repo Virtual was a thrilling whirlwind of an adventure. The combination of augmented realities with real-life thievery and sentient programming was superb, and I found myself adoring every moment of this novel. I honestly loved everything from the pacing to the characters, as well as all of the little details within. JD was a fascinating character, one who was shockingly complex, with a full backstory and multiple jobs that I personally would have loved to see more about. To be honest, when I read the description, I thought a good chunk of the novel would be set in the augmented side of this world. While that did happen, it wasn't nearly as much as I expected. Oddly enough, I'm okay with that. The secondary characters introduced throughout the novel added to the complexity, making the world feel richer and more alive. Each little detail rounded out the world. I love how the distinction between the two worlds would seem to blend at times. This is not an easy thing to portray, especially not in a novel, but I think that White did a solid job of it here. In fact, I'm secretly (okay, not so secretly) hoping to see another novel in this world at some point. I also really adored the A.I. in this novel. It would have been easy to include one and leave it like that, but that isn't what happened. White explored the concept of a developing A.I., and everything that would include. It was introspective and thoughtful, and I really enjoyed the perspective provided here. What shocked me was how hard this novel hit me. The conclusion in particular really impacted me, emotionally speaking. But there were other moments along the way that surprised me, both good and bad. I guess that just goes to show how attached I became while I was reading. I'll confess that this is actually the first novel I've read by Corey J. White, but you can officially consider me hooked. I'm absolutely adding him to my list of authors to keep an eye on, and if I can make some time, I'd also like to dig into his backlog. I hope that fact says enough about how much I enjoyed this novel. Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Comics
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  • Pile By the Bed
    January 1, 1970
    Australian science fiction author Corey J White showed he could write science fiction action in his Voidwitch trilogy of novellas (Killing Gravity, Void Black Shadow and Static Ruin). Those novellas were breathless in their pacing short and sharp and yet anchored by some memorable characters. Repo Virtual, Whites first full length novel, takes some of the skills he showed in the shortened form and shows that he can apply them successfully over the longer form.JD lives in Neo-Sogndo, a coastal Australian science fiction author Corey J White showed he could write science fiction action in his Voidwitch trilogy of novellas (Killing Gravity, Void Black Shadow and Static Ruin). Those novella’s were breathless in their pacing – short and sharp and yet anchored by some memorable characters. Repo Virtual, White’s first full length novel, takes some of the skills he showed in the shortened form and shows that he can apply them successfully over the longer form.JD lives in Neo-Sogndo, a coastal Korean city close to Seoul, sometime in the near future. He works as a robot repairer but makes his money as a repo-man in the worlds largest on-line multiplayer game Voidwars, owned by the massive Zero Corporation. JD has a bit of a criminal past, which has left him with a gammy knee and is pulled right back in by his step brother Soon-Hyung who tempts him to participate in “one last job” a heist which will net him enough money to have his knee fixed and set his mother up in a new apartment. The job involves stealing from the dying head of Zero Corporation on behalf of Soon’s spiritual leader, a charismatic woman called Kali.The first half of the novel is the heist. Getting the team together, planning it all out and then having to go earlier than planned to time the job with the Soccer World Cup final. While nothing goes exactly as planned, JD gets away but that is actually when the story really begins as JD keeps the prize for himself and tries to use it to blackmail Kali for more money. The second half of the book introduces Enda, an operative hired by a Zero executive to find the stolen item. At the same time, Kali is sending teams of violent, trigger happy youths out to track JD down. Meanwhile the object that JD has stolen, a small data cube, turns out to have a mind of its own.Repo Virtual is almost a classic cyberpunk tale – band of street punks with computer skills who like spending time in virtual space, take on a giant corporation with a nascent artificial intelligence thrown in. Readers familiar with the genre will easily pick homages to classics like Blade Runner, Neuromancer and Snowcrash. But clearly fascination with the subgenre has not gone away with one of the most anticipated video games of 2020 being a title called Cyberpunk 2077. And while he leans on these traditions, White reshapes them to his own ends. His Korean setting is believable, as is the technology that characters employ or that is employed against them. And as noted above, White has a flair for writing action that comes through strongly here.Repo Virtual, shows Corey J White taking some classic science fiction tropes and making them his own. He clearly shows a capacity to move to long form story telling with believable, engaging characters and a propulsive story that manages to pause for breath but never flags. The Coda clearly marks this as a stand alone novel, another breath of fresh air in a market filled with prequels and sequels and leaving an intriguing question mark as to what White will tackle next.
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  • keikii Eats Books
    January 1, 1970
    To read more of my reviews, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books! Quote: I hate money, I despise it. It has twisted a beautiful and creative species and turned us into a ravenous, all-consuming virus. Review: Repo Virtual was a very interesting book that was very easy to read and become a part of. I enjoyed the world, once I figured out what was going on. It also has a very diverse cast of characters and the story is fun and interesting, too.Repo Virtual is about JD, who works as a Repoman for To read more of my reviews, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books! Quote: I hate money, I despise it. It has twisted a beautiful and creative species and turned us into a ravenous, all-consuming virus. Review: Repo Virtual was a very interesting book that was very easy to read and become a part of. I enjoyed the world, once I figured out what was going on. It also has a very diverse cast of characters and the story is fun and interesting, too.Repo Virtual is about JD, who works as a Repoman for a virtual online game. His brother asks JD to do a special Repo job, which is much more like stealing than normal. For some reason, JD actually does the job, because family is family. It started complicated, when it was just stealing a piece of software from one of the most powerful companies in the world. It got even more complicated when that software ended up being the first sentient AI.Julius Dax (JD) is not the most likable main character. He doesn't make the best decisions. He doesn't have the best outlook on life. And in some respects, he just happens to know people in the right place at the right time that he ends up the lead character in this story. Yet he has a lot of traits that do make him interesting in his own right. Like the fact that he is disabled because his he took part in some riots years ago, and he never had the money to fix the problem. So he lives in pain and with a limp. This job he takes is supposed to give him enough money to fix the problem in his leg.I did enjoy the world, once I figured it out. But it took me a lot longer to actually figure out what was going on than I would have liked. I don't know if it is because I was distracted when I started reading this (I was on an hour long bus ride), or what. I just could not figure out what was virtual reality and was was reality. And then I learned that most of the book was augmented reality, which made things make a lot more sense. It also took me quite a while to figure out that this took place in Korea. In part because I'm not familiar with Songdo and didn't know it was a real place. And that's just some of the issues I had.Repo Virtual takes place in a near future world where capitalism has run rampant and Corporations have near slave labor in the search of more of the all mighty money. People just accept that they are expected to work and work, and if something happens to them they are out of luck. There are even factions looking to stop capitalism, which is who JD ends up working with to steal what turns out to be an AI.This was a bit of a slow start, because the book didn't really start until about 30% in. It was interesting before then, but once it started it went off with a bang. You just know that a heist starting off in the first quarter of the book is going to end poorly, somehow. In this case, it is the dilemma of how do you hand over a sentient being to someone who doesn't care about it and just wants to use it? There is also the dilemma that while JD is trying to find this out, both the people he stole the AI from and the people he was supposed to give it to now want him dead. And he can't just handle this on his own.Repo Virtual was fun the entire time with a lot of cute moments. Especially when the AI was trying to figure out if it was sentient and what that means. I enjoyed myself a lot.ARC received from Tor Books on Edelweiss. This did not affect my review. Thank you!
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  • Dom
    January 1, 1970
    Repo Virtual takes the reader on an action packed cyberpunk adventure which is perfect for fans of William Gibson and Ready Player One. Part speculation on a very plausible future where multiple realities are controlled by a single Corporate Entity, part sci-fi thriller with a crunchy combination of technology and violence, with a backbone of philosophical questions around AI, Repo Virtual provides a thoroughly enjoyable ride from start to finish.One of the biggest draws for me on a personal Repo Virtual takes the reader on an action packed cyberpunk adventure which is perfect for fans of William Gibson and Ready Player One. Part speculation on a very plausible future where multiple realities are controlled by a single Corporate Entity, part sci-fi thriller with a crunchy combination of technology and violence, with a backbone of philosophical questions around AI, Repo Virtual provides a thoroughly enjoyable ride from start to finish.One of the biggest draws for me on a personal level was the diversity. The protagonist, JD, is a queer Black man, and his relationship with his ex-boyfriend Troy plays a significant role in the story. Other characters that feature prominently include a non-binary person, an older queer woman, and a trans man, among others. Though we see character archetypes common in this kind of science fiction, like the jerkface kid genius hacker and the drifting grifter, I felt each protagonist in the novel was developed enough to have their own unique presence on the page.In addition to the diversity, I loved the vivid, precise pictures created of Neo Songdo, the hybrid physical-virtual city where the events of the novel take place. Every scene immersed me and allowed me to clearly visualize the environment and the action both. The ending is, in my opinion, thought provoking and impactful; though I can see others disagreeing, it has the potential to generate discussion either way.My only critique of Repo Virtual resides in the pacing. The first half of the novel felt slow with some extraneous scenes. The back half by contrast felt rushed—some plot threads were resolved in an unsatisfying manner as a result.Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend Repo Virtual for people looking for an entertaining cyberpunk thriller with a diverse cast, topped with considered messages about the consequences of capitalism and the nature of AI.Thank you to Tor/Forge and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Jameson
    January 1, 1970
    Corey J, White, the author behind the Voidwitch Saga, brings an exciting and interesting cyberpunk world for readers to enjoy. Augmented Reality and other virtual technologies take center stage in this heist/escapism novel, and the main characters are full of idealism and philosophy, which are both questioned heavily in this book, which I particularly enjoyed. This title is chock-full of cyberpunk and science fiction tropes, but does just enough to stand out on its own. In addition, White does a Corey J, White, the author behind the Voidwitch Saga, brings an exciting and interesting cyberpunk world for readers to enjoy. Augmented Reality and other virtual technologies take center stage in this heist/escapism novel, and the main characters are full of idealism and philosophy, which are both questioned heavily in this book, which I particularly enjoyed. This title is chock-full of cyberpunk and science fiction tropes, but does just enough to stand out on its own. In addition, White does a great job of finding ways for the reader to feel they are connected with the characters by the difficulties of living in a world controlled by a company who controls the virtual, and real world as well. White, does an excellent job with the pacing of the novel, but at times, the book lost focus slightly, or the clarity of the story was much better in the second half of the novel than the first. I felt that the age of the characters in relation to the story, allow this title to be accessible by teens and adults alike. The actions scenes were fantastic and full of energy and the conclusion was a good ending. There is also good LGBTQ representation in this novel, so keep that in mind. This title comes out April 21st, 2020. All in all, this is a welcome addition to modern science fiction readers, and public libraries alike. An enjoyable story, not too dry, and some unique takes of questions of self-identity and what truly matters to you.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    If youve read the Philip K Dick story where the guy has to swipe his way out of his own apartment, conning the AI into extending him enough credit to use his own john and thought, oh yeah, thats exactly how the futures gonna be, then youll understand when I say that White has built one of the most realistic futures Ive ever read. Every scene is grounded and alive with sensory details that arent cynical, tropey, or preachy. They are absolutely believable and sensible and never separate from the If you’ve read the Philip K Dick story where the guy has to swipe his way out of his own apartment, conning the AI into extending him enough credit to use his own john and thought, oh yeah, that’s exactly how the future’s gonna be, then you’ll understand when I say that White has built one of the most realistic futures I’ve ever read. Every scene is grounded and alive with sensory details that aren’t cynical, tropey, or preachy. They are absolutely believable and sensible and never separate from the people who inhabit the setting, and this foundation makes the whole book an immersive thrill ride.If you’ve read any Robin Hobb books and been astounded that you could care about fictional people so much, wait until you meet the messy bunch of individuals tangled up in this drama. I love a book that makes me talk out loud to the characters, and White delivers this with every twist and turn. The compassion in this book was a welcome surprise – no 80s cyberpunk coldness here and hallelujah! the smooth and relaxed representation! I may have cheered once or twice.If you’ve read Neuromancer and felt a little baffled and out-of-touch, White has cracked the code on making a tech heist concrete and understandable without losing any of the excitement or wonder. The stakes are clear, the mission impossible, and the people flawed. It’s a gorgeous, enthralling read, and I can’t wait to shove Repo Virtual into people’s hands and tell them…read this! It’s magnificent.I was given an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Harrison Schweiloch
    January 1, 1970
    Repo Virtual by Corey J. WhiteI dont know much about Corey J. White. Based on the back covers of his books, I can tell he lives in Australia and has good taste in hats. I first learned of his writing when he wrote a novella published by tor dot com publishing, Killing Gravity. I borrowed it from the library and thoroughly enjoyed the story of Mariam Xi, Voidwitch. The space opera starring a mysterious woman with telekinesis who didnt know much of her past plot seemed like a 21st century remix Repo Virtual by Corey J. WhiteI don’t know much about Corey J. White. Based on the back covers of his books, I can tell he lives in Australia and has good taste in hats. I first learned of his writing when he wrote a novella published by tor dot com publishing, Killing Gravity. I borrowed it from the library and thoroughly enjoyed the story of Mariam Xi, Voidwitch. The “space opera starring a mysterious woman with telekinesis” who didn’t know much of her past plot seemed like a 21st century remix stitched together from old comic books and Star Wars. It has a sense of fun an some interesting world building. I enjoyed it so much that I bought the two sequel novellas as ebooks so I could finish reading the tale. The story took a odd left turn in the second book but overall all three novellas were a fun read. So when I found out that he has a debut novel, Repo Virtual, coming out, I quickly requested it from NetGalley. The blurb describes as a cyberpunk heist of the first sentient AI by an online repoman. And it certainly does include all of that and so much more, but not in a good way. While I enjoyed this book, I did not enjoy it as much as I enjoyed those three prior novellas. I think the best way to explain it is that Repo Virtual is five pounds of book ideas crammed into a one pound bag. The main protagonist is JD, who spends his time doing digital repossessions in a giant online multiplayer space opera video game that is reminiscent of the Oasis in Ready Player One. This idea alone, of a society where online repossession of purely digital assets is a viable career option, could sustain a story by itself. But not this story - White barely spends any time on this aspect of the story. Then this book pivots into heist - JD’s sibling hires him for one last job. (One nice thing in this book is the representation - JD is gay, his sibling uses “they” as their pronoun, another minor character is casually noted to be transgender - and it is all treated as normal, commonplace, and entirely unremarkable - as it should be! Well done.) But before we get to the heist, we take a detour into a weird quasi-religious cult that JD’s sibling has fallen into. The cult’s existence and role as villain is a complete unnecessary diversion and detracts from the story. Then we finally get to the heist. For a book billed as a heist novel, the heist itself is neither central to the plot or interesting in and of itself. Seriously, if the entire heist had happened off-stage before page one it would not have detracted from the plot. This is supposed to be a near-future with more advanced technology then on the present day, but the characters act like they have never heard of forensic evidence like DNA or fingerprints. JD and his sibling brutally kidnap multiple people during the course of this heist, utterly eviscerating any good feelings I had for the protagonist. Their plan was so foolhardy that I was rooting for them to get caught. And then, for reasons left unexplained, JD decides to plug the stolen computer chip (which we learn contains the world’s first real generally smart AI) into his phone to see what happens instead of giving it to his sibling as he promised. Why does he do this? The plot requires it but there is no satisfactory explanation. Also unexplained is why JD’s exboyfriend, a philosophy professor, ever dated or respected him in the first place or why he takes him back at times throughout the story. I would expect a philosophy professor who is so concerned about ethics that he can teach an AI to behave well to be more concerned about his romantic partner’s violent felonious activities. After the first third of the book, we take a hard pivot to Enda, a private investigator with a mysterious past who is a much more interesting protagonist, even if she is a walking collections of tropes. She is hired by the company JD stole from to retrieve the AI. Of course, she and JD and the AI eventually all meet up and become friends, because although she is a killer, she also has a heart of gold and is willing to sacrifice profit and her own safety for a computer program and a man she just met. I know the last several paragraphs may seem snarky and critical. I don’t want you to think I didn’t enjoy this book. I did! The writing style is clever and sophisticated- it is a book clearly in conversation with its cyberpunk predecessors, going all the way back to Neuromancer. But it’s just trying to do too much. Emergence of the first smart general AI could be a book by itself. Enda’s story could fill a book on its own. And, as the title suggests, a virtual repoman is a great concept for a story. This book is just trying to cram too much in and it ends up feeling overstuffed and unbalanced.
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  • Ernest
    January 1, 1970
    If this was the book William Gibson had written instead of Agency, we'd be saying he's back at his best. But, no, it's a debut novel by Corey J. White, and he's got his own voice and his own vision. You can see where others have influenced him, Gibson, Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson, and that guy who wrote Ready Player One (Ernest Cline). If I had to list four cyberpunkish books you had to read, I'd probably give you Neuromancer, Snowcrash, Equations of Life (Simon Morden), and now...Repo If this was the book William Gibson had written instead of Agency, we'd be saying he's back at his best. But, no, it's a debut novel by Corey J. White, and he's got his own voice and his own vision. You can see where others have influenced him, Gibson, Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson, and that guy who wrote Ready Player One (Ernest Cline). If I had to list four cyberpunkish books you had to read, I'd probably give you Neuromancer, Snowcrash, Equations of Life (Simon Morden), and now...Repo Virtual by Corey J. White. White brings the genre up to date, and a bit beyond, setting the story in the very real city of Sogodo, South Korea, where the US is a failed state and the hot action is all about Zero Corporation, which runs the worlds largest namespace, Voidwar, which has an economy they control that has more real-world value than most country's currency. Julias Dax, a specialist in gameworld repo jobs, he's tapped by his brother to repo a bit of code in the real world, only it's not really repoed if you don't have a legal claim on it, so there's that. JD wouldn't do it, especially for his troublemaking brother, who's fallen under the thrall of a cultish visionary, but the money is too good to pass up.His brother, Soo-hyun, owes him for something that happened in the past, which left JD with a painful limp and a bum knee, so this is how he says he's sorry. As it turns out, sending a card would have caused a lot less trouble, as the code turns out to be an emergent AI that's been locked off from the world and when JD manages to free it, the usual mayhem occurs with corporations and cults hot to get the AI for their own use and AI not wanting to be sold back into servitude for either group. It doesn't help any that JD's old flame is a philosophy geek and points out a few Marxist realities to the budding entity. Side note: This story fits neatly into Jonathan Strahan's anthology out the month before - Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, which I also recommend.Enter Enda, once a spook for the now-defunct USA, and lately a gumshoe/fixer surfing the underbelly of Sogodo. Zero Corp hires her to get their little black box back, and suddenly a lot of people are running around chasing JD and running up the body count. The basic story here, boy/girl meets escaped AI and people chase them to get it back has been told before, and in fact, William Gibson's Agency just took a swipe at it earlier this year. What elevates Virtual Repo is White's take on changing face of geopolitics, the emergence of gamified economies, and the fact that he's actually got a story arc that makes sense, full of characters that refuse to play stupid fo the convenience of the author. There are things I wish the author had done differently. I hate the title, the setup takes too long, and the ending pretty much says outright that this is a standalone novel, just when I'd really gotten to like the motley crew assemble3d but the end of the book. Those are my issues though, and the author gets to chose his own story. All in all, I'm glad he did and very much look forward to whatever he does next. This may be a strong debut, but I'm betting Corey J. White is no one-trick-[ony.
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  • Diane Hernandez
    January 1, 1970
    In the not too distant future, Korea has been overtaken by greedy companies. The populace forgets its poverty and hopelessness by playing a massively multiplayer online game, VOIDWAR. People are so obsessed with buying virtual goods for VOIDWAR that now they buy them with real money on credit. If they fail to pay their loan, JD does a Repo Virtual and takes back their virtual goods to their lenderfor eurosnot game currency.Real life is hard. Capitalism has laid a beautiful and clean augmented In the not too distant future, Korea has been overtaken by greedy companies. The populace forgets its poverty and hopelessness by playing a massively multiplayer online game, VOIDWAR. People are so obsessed with buying virtual goods for VOIDWAR that now they buy them with real money on credit. If they fail to pay their loan, JD does a Repo Virtual and takes back their virtual goods to their lender—for euros—not game currency.Real life is hard. Capitalism has laid a beautiful and clean augmented reality over the city’s actual grime, graffiti and crime. But JD lives beneath the facade and makes his living as a thief. When JD’s sibling, Soo-hyun, asks him to steal back a stolen software program for its designer, Kali, he agrees.I really want to keep explaining the plot from there—as that is the best part—but no spoilers here. However, know that Repo Virtual is much more than just the promised cyberpunk world-building and heist novel of its first half.I don’t read much science fiction anymore as all the plots seem either all fun or all deeply meaningful and philosophical about life. Repo Virtual rather awkwardly combines them into one plot. Part one is fun and the rest is proving a point about “how we must change society before we end up like this”-type of plot. Here’s an example of what I mean from the book:“Corporate capitalism is built on a foundation of infinite growth despite our very finite resources. We’re on track to consume our way to an unlivable planet, and no one seems to care.”By the nature of this schism, many people may be disappointed in the overall plot. However, I enjoyed the variety of voices within this book once I overcame my disorientation. I also liked the seamless merging of LGBTQIA realities into the future’s culture. 4 stars!Thanks to Tor Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Delara
    January 1, 1970
    All right! Im just gonna jump right into my review. Repo Virtual is a cyberpunk action/adventure in three acts that centers around virtual reality repo man JD and his heist of a virus which turns out to be AI. Yep, it's as cool as it sounds. I'm a sucker for Be Gay, Do Crime, yet this book has me split right down the middle. Brass tacks: the first act and I didnt connect. I never grew to like the characters, and, despite the gorgeous descriptions, the world took me a bit to sink my teeth into. I All right! I’m just gonna jump right into my review. Repo Virtual is a cyberpunk action/adventure in three acts that centers around virtual reality repo man JD and his heist of a virus which turns out to be AI. Yep, it's as cool as it sounds. I'm a sucker for Be Gay, Do Crime, yet this book has me split right down the middle. Brass tacks: the first act and I didn’t connect. I never grew to like the characters, and, despite the gorgeous descriptions, the world took me a bit to sink my teeth into. I love the juxtaposition between the shiny galactic online game Voidwar going on in the skies while the streets are ragged and dirty below, but JD and his crew almost lost me.BUT. Then the second act of the book started and WHAT?I repeat: WHAT?!Act two begins with Enda Hyldal, a private investigator with a dangerous past hired (blackmailed) by Zero Corp to retrieve their stolen property, and friends, in this reader’s humble opinion, she stole the show. Honestly, if she were introduced sooner, my opinions might be different about the beginning of the book. Who knows! And then the emergence of the AI is so wonderfully done, and I don’t want to say to much and spoil anything, but the AI’s perspective is *chef’s kiss*— it got me. I think it’ll get you, too.And although I loved the last 2/3 of this book, I want to mention the diversity, which on the surface is excellent. A non-western location with POC and everyone’s queer. However, I'd be remiss if I didn’t mention that the nonbinary character felt underdeveloped, simply there to be used by other characters. As a nonbinary person who wants to see more rep on the page, this was a major miss for me.Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. And go read White’s Voidwitch Saga, STAT!
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  • kortnireads
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Tor for my first ARC!Sci-fi, cyber-punk, heist centered action. Overall, I found the writing to be nicely done, but lacking in character development. This is especially seen with the main "villains" of the story. They did not feel very credible or threatening. I think the lack of connection to the characters was a major component to my lowering of my rating. They preformed their roles as characters and that felt like that was all. Oddly enough, I was most connected to the AI system Thank you to Tor for my first ARC!Sci-fi, cyber-punk, heist centered action. Overall, I found the writing to be nicely done, but lacking in character development. This is especially seen with the main "villains" of the story. They did not feel very credible or threatening. I think the lack of connection to the characters was a major component to my lowering of my rating. They preformed their roles as characters and that felt like that was all. Oddly enough, I was most connected to the AI system which is fitting, seeing as the core message is that sentience equates to being a person. I just wish I would have had more to connect to for the other characters in the heist "crew."The world building, in terms of the city-scape and technology was interesting and well done. I think the themes explored in this were interesting, such as the idea of what constitutes as a person and how this related to the idea of artificial intelligence. I think the author also integrates common issues with technology into the story in a way that we can relate to in our current world and the ever growing influence of technology.I think this book is a unique, quick read that can present some interesting ideas to think about, but lacks in character development and connection.Again, thanks to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with an e-copy to review! This book is set to publish April 21st so be on the look out for it soon!
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    An online and real life semi handicapped repo man, a lethal assassin hired by a corporation, and a drink the kool-aid cult are going after a stolen agi for their own agendas in a multicultural Asian future city overlapped with virtual reality. Fast paced, fun, and emotional. I felt fully immersed into this world and it broke me down a few times. I left this book a bit depressed, happy, and hungry for fried rice. Fans of Ready Player One, Neal Stephenson, and players of CyberPunk will really An online and real life semi handicapped repo man, a lethal assassin hired by a corporation, and a drink the kool-aid cult are going after a stolen agi for their own agendas in a multicultural Asian future city overlapped with virtual reality. Fast paced, fun, and emotional. I felt fully immersed into this world and it broke me down a few times. I left this book a bit depressed, happy, and hungry for fried rice. Fans of Ready Player One, Neal Stephenson, and players of CyberPunk will really appreciate this book.
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  • Fraser Simons
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come later, but I quite enjoyed it. Bit of a slow start with the typical info dump and introduction to the main character, but it was fleshed out nicely and more characters were introduced. Its incisive and quietly subversive of the sub-genre and a solid read. Also, its the closest thing to showing off hybrid reality yet, which I quite like. Its all augmented but it was to a point that one step further is easier to imagine than most other novels with AR. Review to come later, but I quite enjoyed it. Bit of a slow start with the typical info dump and introduction to the main character, but it was fleshed out nicely and more characters were introduced. It’s incisive and quietly subversive of the sub-genre and a solid read. Also, it’s the closest thing to showing off hybrid reality yet, which I quite like. It’s all augmented but it was to a point that one step further is easier to imagine than most other novels with AR.
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  • Lele Fuchur
    January 1, 1970
    A really, really good cyberpunk story. Closer to now than comfortable, open, diverse, queer and very thoughtful. Talked about artificial/Sentinent/non-biological entities in a very accessible way. If you want a great caper, coole characters and well formed thoughts about the future, look no further. The book is also quite angry, which I enjoyed.
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  • Lucy
    January 1, 1970
    A fast-paced, dystopian tale set in a multicultural city with augmented virtual reality. A high-tech heist & lethal investigation are coupled with fascinating questions about what it means to be alive.
  • Shannon (enchantedfiction)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an eARC of Repo Virtual from NetGalley for an honest review. This review will be posted closer to the release date, April 21st!
  • Timandra Whitecastle
    January 1, 1970
    RTC on the Fantasy Hive!
  • Imogene
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come when my brain can cope
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