Book Review: Reboot by Amy Tintera

Posted 05/09/2013 by alicemarvels in Science Fiction


Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Page Count: 352


cinematic action and thrills; a wholly original world that somehow makes zombies fresh


the romance was uneven and developed too quickly

Reboot is an action-packed, thrilling new take on the undead. Highly recommended for fans of Divergent, Graceling and general lady badassery!

Reboot is the first sci-fi/dystopian debut of 2013 that I finished with as much excitement about the story as I had when I began it. Every debut I’ve been excited about in this genre has been terribly disappointing so far. I know Amy Tintera will be in my TBR pile repeatedly in the future, and I can’t say that about any of her fellow newbies.

That’s not to say this book didn’t have its faults. Reboot wasn’t perfect, but it did *almost* everything right. The first half of the book is excellent—a truly action-packed, thrilling introduction to a unique world with a fresh take on zombies (yes, it IS still possible). As I read about Wren and her fellow reboots, I had a little voice in my head squeeing “FINALLY! a book to fill the Divergent shaped hole in my life!” For the most part that voice was right, though it didn’t end up being quite as stunning a book as I’d hoped.

The concept of reboots is SO cool. In a future version of Texas, a virus has wiped out most of humanity, and it has another unfortunate side effect of making the dead rise again. If the risen dead are under a certain age, their brains can adapt to the change and retain some of their humanity, but they have heightened speed and strength. The HARC, a shadowy organization that rules the remaining humans, uses reboots as soldiers to keep what’s left of society in line. So basically kids die, wake up, and begin a new Dauntless-style life of fighting for the HARC. I kind of envision reboots as the badass little babies of zombies and fighters from The Matrix.



Wren 178 reminded me of one of my favorite heroines of all time, Katsa from Graceling. Wren is one of the most powerful and fearsome reboots, practically indestructible, because it took 178 minutes for her to rise after dying. This means she retains less of her humanity than other lower numbered reboots, and she has greater reflexes, speed and strength. We begin the story when she’s out on a mission, and we are introduced to her fighting style and the city slums controlled by the HARC.


I absolutely loved Wren. She had a horrible life as a human, so her pragmatic acceptance of her life as an indentured HARC solider is understandable. She doesn’t question the setup too much until she meets Callum 22, a new recruit whose smiling, too-human overtures threaten to crack her tough-as-teflon exterior, and mark him as a troublemaker in the eyes of the HARC. Wren knows they don’t keep troublemaker reboots around for long.

It’s great fun to watch Wren train Callum and try to resist her long dormant human impulses. When Ever, her roommate and friend (as much as a 178 can feel friendship), has some terrifying side effects from the HARC’s experiments on her, Wren begins moving away from her default setting of pragmatic leashed killer, and starts thinking for herself.

Reboot had me in its thrall totally until Wren and Callum’s romance got more serious. At that point, I lost sight of the cool and calculating voice I’d grown to love—the girl who is convinced she has no emotions and can’t care about anyone. The more saccharine romantic moments made both characters feel a bit blurry in my eyes. Or maybe just less believable, because it was such an abrupt personality change for Wren especially. If their relationship had come about more gradually and been better developed, I could have rolled with it. I like the idea of their romance, the execution was just a bit uneven.

I have to compare this romantic development again to Graceling—I love the way Katsa evolved from a killing machine wielded by a corrupt king into a badass free agent with nothing but her own moral compass guiding her. When Katsa loved Po, it was with all the stumbles you’d expect out of someone who had only ever solved problems with violence; she had to learn to be more human. I expected a bit more of a learning curve for Wren; more of a transition between the badass Wren we met on the first page, who left awestruck whispers of “178” in her wake, and the Wren who cuddles in ditches and crawls into a boy’s lap like a kitten. (I feel like I’m being too hard on Wren and Callum here, because I did love both of them regardless of how I felt about the romance.)

In spite of those quibbles, I loved Reboot. Tintera’s writing is simple, action-driven and addictive. I was fascinated by this violent world, and thirsty for more information about what’s outside the tightly guarded cities. The ending is spectacular, providing some closure while leaving me clamoring for the next phase of Wren’s journey. I’m definitely hooked in a big way, and I truly can’t wait to see where book two will take these characters!


Read an excerpt.
Watch the trailer:



    I feel like this is one I’d have mixed feelings on, so until the consensus on the sequel is out, I’m skipping it for now. Thanks for such a well-rounded review, though, Alice! 😀


    Oh this does sound so good. Loved the way you put it when you said you ended up as excited as you started. Oh that bodes well with this book. I can also see why the romance underminds the character. I mean you have one striving for humanity, it only makes sense that there would be very little romance. Still, it doesn’t sound like it ruins the plot as a whole. Brilly review!


    While I loved the romance in this one, I do agree that Wren’s evolution from cold and unfeeling badass to in-love badass was a bit quick, but for some reason it just didn’t bother me all that much. I was already madly in love with both Wren and Callum by that point and I’m such a complete romantic at heart that I was all over those really sweet moments:) I’m so glad you enjoyed this one overall though, and like you, I’m definitely excited to see where things go in book 2! Fabulous review:)


    I’ve been gone from the blogosphere for too long, and this post was like my welcome back! I adore this review! The points you make – it’s like you know MY LIFE! You have me super excited for this one now! The pros definitely outweigh the cons for me; and oh, how I need a book to “fill the Divergent-shaped hole in my life.” Brilliant review! Thank you so much for sharing!


    This is the first time I have seen the trailer and while I liked it, it really doesn’t do the book justice. This book rocked! I don’t think I have come across a bad review of it yet.


    Totally get where you think that the romance was too quick, but glad that you liked the action overall.


    Yeah, not a fan of the romance (though I loved Callum as a character) but I ADORED all the action and WREN! She really was like an undead Hanna, come to think of it. She knew she was a bad-ass and walked the walk with pride. Gotta love that.


    Ya know I was gonna blow this off because of the insta-love romance but you’ve made me rethink it as Wren sounds pretty cool and the world building sound impressive. Awesome review Lauren.


    The concept of reboot does sound really cool! I think I’ll enjoy all the fast action. Thanks for sharing 🙂


    Oh no! I do not like the running ones


    I agree with you about the concept being so incredibly cool, and I never made a connection between Wren and Katsa, but now that you’ve pointed it out, they have quite a few things in common, and they are things I love about both of them. I think our slight disappointment came at exactly the same time, for the same reason. I really thought the romance in this one was rushed and I didn’t like that it magically ‘cured’ Wren overnight. But other than that, Reboot was a fabulous read and a great beginning to a series I can’t wait to continue.
    Lovely reivew as usual!


    Makes zombies fresh? Sounds impressive. Seeing how they are dead and rooting and all. 😀
    Divergent shaped hole – lol. I tried to fill that with Insurgent but that book didn’t do it for me quite well enough. I guess the magic has gone from there…
    But… I don’t like when the cool wild cat lead turns into lap kitten. Sigh. And I’m not sure that I want to start a new series right now. I’ll have to think some more about Reboot….
    Thanks for the great review!


    Yes, I had the exact same reaction to this book as you did. It started off pretty strongly for me with Wren being badass and all. And I really liked Callum and the plot line but I felt like the romance made the book less enjoyable for me. I felt like it took too much focus away from the actual world building and plot line.
    I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it despite the issues you had with the romance.
    Fabulous review, Lauren! 🙂


    LOVED this one and I’m not a zombie fan. It’s funny — I also though that the last third of the book dragged, but I didn’t blame the romance, I blamed the fact that they were wandering around kind of aimlessly. But still, I think this book will appeal to a lot of readers. If I love a zombie book, that is saying something!
    Great review.

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics


    You’re right, the concept of the reboots is super, mega cool. How do people come up with this stuff? I love originality so that’s a major plus for me. I’m glad it played out so well in the book. Sounds like the romance is the kind that I would also have a problem with, but other than that, I am so impressed by this review and your thoughts. This one sounds fantastic!

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