Simulated (Calculated #2) by Nova McBee #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

From Young-Adult author Nova McBee comes the second book in the gritty, action-filled Calculated series.

Jo Rivers, safely back in Seattle, asks the same question daily—how does a math genius go from taking down international criminals and saving the world economy to living a normal teenage life? The only answer she can come up with is—she doesn’t.

With an overprotective father on her back and Kai on the other side of the world, Jo accepts an offer from Prodigy Stealth Solutions (PSS), who may have found a way to get her gift back. Using a newly developed technology, PSS tries a simulation process on Jo to restore her abilities, but during the attempt, PSS is hacked and a blacklist file containing some of PSS’s most sensitive secrets is stolen. Meanwhile, a mysterious caller who seems to know more than he should delivers a warning to Jo about Kai, who then goes missing.

Despite her father’s concerns, Jo sets off on a risky trip to Tunisia with a PSS team of teen prodigies to find an urgently needed solution for PSS and locate Kai. All the while, Jo has to trust the mysterious informant who, frighteningly, is like no one she has ever met before.

I just finished the first book in this series, Calculated, in November so I was thrilled to see the sequel available so soon on NetGalley.

The second book starts with a slower pace of life for Jo back in Seattle. In the first book, she relied on her gift, the ability to see numbers everywhere and in everything, to make mathematical-based decisions. While Calculated is intricately plotted and full of action, Simulated has a bit of a different feel. At the end of Calculated Jo had lost her gift and is now like a fish out of water struggling to live without it. With the help of PSS and their simulations, she’s fighting to awaken it, but things aren’t going so well. Without the numbers to back her up, Jo is unsure of herself and her decisions, but then a mysterious hacker appears in her sims and guarantees he can help her regain her gift. I feel like most readers will figure out the identity of this hacker early on. Wickedly intelligent and good-hearted, he brings an addional layer of mystery and intrigue to the story. Jo wants to trust him, but her team and boss aren’t as convinced, and she finds herself at a crossroads in her life.

Jo is soon on a plane headed for a mission in Tunisia, but also with a secret agenda of locating Kai. As with the Shanghai setting in the first book, this novel immerses the reader in the country and culture of Tunisia (I especially enjoyed the food!). There’s no sophomore slump here. This heart-pounding sequel offers just as many dangerous and harrowing moments – especially since Jo can’t rely on the numbers and doesn’t hesitate to take risks. Several new characters are introduced, and I enjoyed meeting the other prods (prodigies) on her team.

I wasn’t sure if this was a duology or trilogy, but upon reaching the end I was thrilled to learn there’s a third book in the works. The epilogue offers a surprise that gives a hint where the next story may be headed. If you enjoy intelligent thrillers with spies, covert missions, and surprising twists (and math that’s faaaar out of your lane), add this series to your TBR.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

28 thoughts on “Simulated (Calculated #2) by Nova McBee #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

  1. I seldom understood the math in the television shows NUMB3RS or , but I enjoyed both shows very much because they were so intelligent. (Even if sometimes I wondered if there was a bit of suspension of disbelief involved.) Nice to see there’s at least one book series out there carrying on the tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I watched Numbers but not Scorpion, but from previews I know I’d like it. I like it when shows, authors, movies, etc. don’t try to dumb things down for their audiences. I may not understand it, but it’s still compelling.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I prefer it that way. Unless it’s so out there, it’s not believable. I kind of found Tenet to be like that. I know a lot of people thought it was brilliant, but I was completely detached and found it off-putting. And not realistic or believable at all.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. The logic didn’t work for me. If time moves backward, fine. But heat can’t become cold. Oxygen can’t go out of your lungs instead of into them. If that was the case, then why is light not shooting out of his eyes instead of coming into them? That’s how vision works. Why can he hear? His eardrums shouldn’t vibrate correctly for him to hear. Peristalsis allows him to swallow the saliva that pools in his mouth, but that should work in reverse, too. So, would it collect in his mouth? Would digestion all work in reverse and he’d just constantly be vomiting? Shouldn’t his blood flow backward? Or his body turn inside out? Shouldn’t the force of gravity send him into space?

              You can’t arbitrarily choose which scientific principles work backward and which don’t. So, time moving backward? Okay. I’ll suspend disbelief and go with that. But not the hot/cold thing and the oxygen thing. Then it all starts to fall apart.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the idea of how math factors into the theme. Despite not enjoying math myself (not in the least) I like when it’s used in a plot. It’s a bit like hating winter. I detest the cold but enjoy books with winter settings.
    Great review, Teri!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mischenko

    It’s always so exciting when you discover there’s yet another book in a series. Hope you love it, Teri. Your review is thought-provoking. This isn’t a series I’d normally pick up, but you always inspire me. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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