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Book Review: Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes

Just the other day I was thinking to myself, “There aren’t enough books with main characters in the foster care system.”  Self: Meet Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes.

Publisher Description:

Olivia

He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don’t care.

At least at this moment, I don’t care.

Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…

Z

I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta.

It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.

Except that she’s not.

Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.

Olivia has been shuffled from foster home to foster home.  She has given up on trying to find love and a family, she just wants to be safe.  When we first meet her, she is being sent to a new but less than welcoming home.  And the first thing the woman wants to do is take away her computer, which is an issue because it is the one thing Olivia has that is her own – and she is an excellent hacker.

Z is a mystery.  He hacks for a man that you definitely want to keep happy.  Soon, Olivia is drawn into a strange, twisty story that involves Z, hacking, and epic car rides off of bridges into rivers.

Some things you should know . . .

Olivia Twisted is a modern day retelling of Oliver Twist.  The way it is handled is pretty ingenius and fun. It has some unique “twists”.

There is romance!  There is mystery and intrigue! There are plot twists!  It’s fun, creative, and not at all what you are expecting when you think Modern Day Oliver Twist.

I felt that Barnes delivered in the emotional complexity that Olivia experiences as a product of the foster care system.  There were some subtle but strong lines that helped convey the emotion.  For example, Olivia doesn’t like to be touched and when she first meets this new foster family she recoils at their touch and briefly states that she has been “touched enough” for this life time.  It’s not graphic but packs an emotional punch.  These themes are then more fully developed throughout the story.

I am always a fan of books that put characters in non-stereotypical roles and recognizes the under represented, so I love that Olivia was an excellent hacker.

Overall, I thought this was an interesting and strong story.  I definitely recommend it.  It makes an interesting pairing with Find Me by Romily Bernard.  It would also make a good addition to our STEM Girls book list of girls who excel in science and technology.

Release Date: November 5, 2013 by Entangled Teen, ISBN: 9781622660285

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