Release Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes
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…
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 Twisted is a great YA novel that provides a modern day spin on Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist. You don’t need to read Oliver Twist to enjoy and appreciate the story though. It’s been so long since I read Dickens’ novel about a young orphan, Oliver, who becomes entrenched in the dark underworld of thievery that I can barely remember the plot. However, each chapter starts with a quote from Oliver Twist that foreshadows the events and reminded me of the parallels between the two novels.
Olivia is the protagonist who has grown up in the foster care system, and when the story opens, she’s in the process of being shifted from one home to the next. Olivia’s perspective gives readers a heart wrenching look at the significant, long-term psychological effects this social care system can often have on children who are already emotionally vulnerable because of their familial situations. It’s sad to see that, at the age of sixteen, Olivia has become so cynical about love and happiness. Her hope and trust in others has been shattered over the years, and now she keeps her emotions in check and does what she has to in order to survive and keep going. Her insightful, critical analysis of her new foster parents and previous homes reveal the underlying emotional pain of abandonment that she keeps carefully hidden away.
Olivia is a strong, resilient young woman whose impressive computer skills, oppressive foster parents, and longing to find a place where she fits in make her susceptible to the wiles of Sam and Z, two of her new classmates who target her as a new recruit for their illicit computer hacker operation masquerading as a group home for unwanted children. Bill Sykes, the leader, relies upon one of his most talented hackers, Z, to find and lure other youth who have no familial ties into their secretive lair where online thievery is a way of life with no escape.
Sykes is a ruthless criminal who cares only about profit and relies upon Z to make sure operations run smoothly. Z is an enigmatic character with a mysterious and painful past who has no qualms about using others to keep Bill happy and protect the group home. Once Sam identifies Olivia as a perfect candidate to bring into their world, she and Z slowly begin to slowly entice Olivia into considering another way of life that will provide her with “financial freedom”. Until he gets to know Oliva, Z has always viewed girls as a means to a profitable end and used his looks and charm to seduce them into joining their team. However, Z is drawn to Olivia and her innocence. He recognizes she is different from all the other girls and becomes deeply conflicted about pulling her into the greed-driven life that Sykes rules.
This is a beautiful love story between Z and Olivia where circumstances and danger push them to make pivotal decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. The characters are richly developed, and the plot is so fascinating that by the time I finished, I wanted to hide my digital footprint from lurking online criminals. The ending was the only aspect that disappointed me because it seemed rushed and underdeveloped. Nevertheless, this is a book I’d recommend to teens and adults who enjoy the YA genre.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
Vivi Barnes was raised on a farm in East Texas where her theater-loving mom and cowboy dad gave her a unique perspective on life. Now living in the magic and sunshine of Orlando, Florida, she divides her time writing, working, goofing off with her husband and three kids, and avoiding dirty dishes.
Goodreads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6926794.Vivi_Barnes
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