Published by Simon & Schuster on August 9, 2018
Lacey Chu has big dreams of becoming a companioneer for MONCHA, the largest tech firm in North America and the company behind the "baku" - a customisable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion too. When Lacey finds out she hasn't been accepted into Profectus - the elite academy for cutting edge tech - it seems her dreams are over. Worst of all, rather than getting to choose one of the advanced bakus, she’s stuck with a rubbish insect one.
Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Once it might’ve been in the shape of a cat but it’s now mangled and broken, no sign of electronic life behind its eyes. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus. Slowly but surely, Jinx becomes more than just a baku to Lacey – he becomes her perfect companion. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his code or built into his motherboard. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet. He seems ... real.
I read and adored Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott when it first came out, years ago. As soon as someone described it to me as Pokemon meets Hunger Games, I was sunk. And it was a good thing I was – that book and its sequel are the most delightful, engaging, fun dystopian romps I’ve read in a long time, and I never fail to recommend them to anyone.
So when I saw Jinxed and read the summary, I had to get my hands on a copy. It won’t be out in the US until next year, but my intrepid Book Depository account has never stopped me before! I preordered it – it helps that the UK cover is adorable – and I’m super glad I did.
How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend
Lacey Chu is a teenager who is dang good at tinkering with baku. In case you were wondering – of course you were wondering – baku are like if your Tamagotchi came to life and turned into a robot. In the not-too-distant future, a woman by the name of Monica Chan creates a corporation known as Moncha, and invents the baku as a replacement for cell phones. Through your baku, you receive everything from GPS and text messages to recommendations for food and just someone to cuddle. If you remember the Tekno robotic dogs of the early 2000s, this is basically it come to life, but better, folks:
Lacey plunges into the woods to find her friend’s lost baku, and in doing so she discovers a – pardon my French – beat to shit cat baku. When she gets it back to her workshop at home, she realizes something isn’t quite right – once she fixes it up, it sure doesn’t act like any normal baku she’s ever seen before. But she is desperate to get into the high school for students who are destined to have good, stable jobs at Moncha Corporation one day, and this cat baku just might be her golden ticket.
Jinx is basically Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch in a feisty robot body – he doesn’t listen to anyone or anything, and he can communicate telepathically with Lacey, much to her shock. (This isn’t normal – baku are obedient to a fault and walk alongside their owners). I fell in love with him instantly. And when Lacey enters the boarding school and learns about its secret baku fighting ring, she and Jinx are in for a real adventure.
The Bottom Line
I could go on and on about the intricacies of this book, but it’s got a nicely layered plot and was very enjoyable. A super-fast read at a hair over 300 pages, I highly recommend Jinxed to anyone who misses their childhood Pokemon, Giga Pet, or Tamagotchi. You’ll visualize it all in magnificent detail, and enjoy every moment. I look forward to the sequel to release next year, and can’t wait to see more of my favorite wisecracking black robo-cat.