Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547721989

  • ISBN-10: 0547721986

  • Pages: 320

  • Price: $9.99

  • Publication Date: 04/17/2012

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 12,13,14,15,16

  • Grade(s): 7-12

  • Reading Level:

    • Lexile Reading Level HL700L
    • Guided Reading Level Z+

Katie Kacvinsky

Katie Kacvinsky

Katie Kacvinsky worked in the entertainment industry and as a high school English teacher before deciding to write full time.
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  • reviews

    "Fans of Oliver’s Delirium will appreciate this story of a girl subverting social strictures through forbidden relationships, but the wild chase scenes and richly developed characters make it a sure sell across the board."--BCCB "This book could not have been more perfect."—Kaci Carpenter, teen YALSA reviewer

  • excerpts

    May 7, 2060

    My mom gave me an old leather-bound journal for my seventeenth

    birthday. At first the blank pages surprised me, as if the story inside

    was lost or had slipped out. She explained sometimes the story is

    supposed to be missing because it’s still waiting to be written. Leave

    it to my mom to give me something from the past to use in the


     They don’t make paper books anymore—it’s illegal to chop down

    real trees. They still grow in some parts of the world, but I’ve never

    seen one. Most cities have switched to synthetic trees, and people

    prefer them to the living ones. Synthetic trees come shipped to your

    house in any size you want, so you don’t have to wait fifteen years for

    them to grow. Now you shop online and choose your desired size and

    height, and in days you have a full-grown tree in your yard, cemented

    into the ground and supported with steel beams anchored

    into the base. Instant. Simple. No fuss.

     Synthetic trees never die. They don’t wither in the fall. You don’t

    have a mess of leaves and needles to sweep up. They’re fireproof. They

    don’t cause allergies. And they’re always perfectly green (constantlygreen

    .com has the best synthetic tree selection, according to my mom). The

    leaves can fade a little from the sun, but you just spray-paint them

    green again. During Halloween, people spray-paint the leaves on

    their trees yellow, orange, and red. It’s the colors leaves used to turn

    before they fell to the ground. My mom said she can remember seeing

    the fall colors when she was young. She said it was the most beautiful

    time of the year. It’s hard to imagine anything becoming beautiful

    as it dies. Then again, it’s hard to imagine much that Mom 

    insists used to “be.”

     When trees were dying offin fires and overharvested, books were

    the first to go. These days books are downloaded digitally and you

    can order any book you want to be uploaded into your Bookbag in

    seconds, which I convert onto my Zipfeed. It reads the words out

    loud to me on my computer. Simple. Convenient. I know how to

    read, of course. We learn it in Digital School 2. I still read my chat

    messages on my phone. But it was proven that audio learning is a

    faster way to retain information, according to some Ph.D. researchers

    who studied rats in a cage. By observing rats they figured out the

    best way for humans to learn. Some politician thought this theory

    sounded glamorous, so they changed a law that changed the world.

    That’s why I listen to almost all of my books.

     I didn’t escape the chore of using my eyes to read. Mom still

    enforces it. She saved all her old novels and stores them in these

    wooden cabinets with glass doors called bookshelves. Every year she

    hands down a few of her favorites to me. I have a collection slowly

    building in my bedroom. I have to admit, I like the look of them. I

    also like to escape inside their world, tucked behind their colorful

    spines. It forces me to fully invest my mind into what I’m doing, not

    just my ears or my eyes. I think barricading them behind glass is a

    little obsessive, but Mom says the paper in books will yellow if they’re

    exposed to air. Just like the leaves on the trees that couldn’t survive in

    this world. Hey, if you can’t acclimate, you disintegrate. I learned

    that in Digital School 3.

     So, you can imagine my surprise when my mom gave me a blank

    book. I rarely see a book with print in it, and now a blank one—what

    a waste. No wonder we killed all the trees. And I’m supposed to

    write in this thing. Longhand. It’s this form of writing using ink on

    paper. It’s so slow! It makes me laugh watching people do it in old

    movies. It hasn’t been used in twenty years. We learn it in school, but

    it’s simulated on our flipscreens. Only specialty online stores sell ink

    pens, but leave it to my mom to invest in this historic item. “Madeline,”

    she told me, “it’s good for you to write down your thoughts.

    It’s therapeutic because it forces you to slow down and think about


     I feel guilty writing on this paper, staining something with words

    when maybe it’s their emptiness, the fact that they’re unscathed, that’s

    more interesting than anything I have to say. My life is far from

    remarkable. Sadly, it’s the other extreme. It is predictable. Controlled.

    Mandated. Paved out for me in a trail I’m forced to follow.

     Why should I take the time to write down my thoughts when no

    one else can even read them? I’m used to millions of people having

    access to everything about me. I’m used to a fountain of feedback

    and comments trailing every entry I type, every thought I expose.

    That makes me feel justified. It shows that people genuinely care

    about me. It reminds me that I’m real and I exist. Why try to hide it

    all in a book? Besides, there are no secrets. Sooner or later, the truth

    always leaks out. That’s one thing I’ve learned in this life.


    Chapter one

    I pulled a sweatshirt over my head, and just as I opened my bedroom

    door, I was distracted by a red light flashing on my computer.

    I was running late, but the glow of the light caught my

    attention and held me in place like a net. I programmed my screen

    to flash different colors depending on who was calling. I knew red

    could only mean one person. I sat down and tapped the light with

    my finger and a single white sentence dissolved on the screen.

     Are you going to be there tonight?

     I read Justin’s question and bit my lips together. My mind told

    me to say no. That answer would please my father. He trained me

    to squeeze my thoughts through a filter so my decisions came out

    acceptable and obedient. But lately it was making me feel weak,

    like my mind wasn’t reallymine

    anymore, just a program to manipulate.

    That’s why this time, I was tempted to say yes.

     I met Justin two months ago on TutorPage—it’s

    a live chatroom

    for students to get help on homework assignments. We were both

    stuck on writing a thesis sentence for our literary analysis paper, a

    requirement in Digital School 4. Since the tutor was being swarmed

    with questions and Justin and I had the same problem, we figured

    it out together. I remember him writing the oddest comment that

    day. He wrote, “Two brains are better than one.” It was strange

    because you can go through all of DS-4 without even looking at

    another person, let alone working with someone. One of the perks

    to a digital life is it forces you to be independent.

     Justin and I coordinated to study two days a week together and

    then he started sending me invites to face-to-face tutor sessions

    held in downtown Corvallis. When he assured me the groups were

    small, but could be helpful, I still dreaded the idea of meeting him

    in public. I’m used to the security of living behind my online profiles

    and the clip art advertisements I create to define me. I can be

    whoever I want to be in that world. I can be funny, deep, pensive,

    eccentric. I can be the best version of myself. Better yet, an exaggeration

    of the best version of myself. I can make all the right decisions.

    I can delete my flaws by pressing a button.

     In the real world anything can happen. It’s like stepping onto

    an icy surface—you have to adjust your footing or you’ll

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547721989

  • ISBN-10: 0547721986

  • Pages: 320

  • Price: $9.99

  • Publication Date: 04/17/2012

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 12,13,14,15,16

  • Grade(s): 7-12

  • Reading Level:

    • Lexile Reading Level HL700L
    • Guided Reading Level Z+

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