Cover image for Strange exit
Strange exit
1st ed.
Physical Description:
288 pages ; 22 cm.
The Earth's survivors escaped into a passenger ship orbiting Earth. Their minds were put in a simulation designed to prepare them all for life after the nuclear event, but some are trapped in a shared virtual reality, their bodies in stasis chambers. No one can get off the ship until all the passengers are out of the sim. Time is running out, and as Lake searched for the heart of the sim, her ally Taren is deciding who must be sacrificed for the greater good. --


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Seventeen-year-old Lake spends her days searching a strange, post-apocalyptic landscape for people who have forgotten one very important thing: this isn't reality. Everyone she meets is a passenger aboard a ship that's been orbiting Earth since a nuclear event. The simulation that was supposed to prepare them all for life after the apocalypse has trapped their minds in a shared virtual reality and their bodies in stasis chambers.No one can get off the ship until all of the passengers are out of the sim, and no one can get out of the sim unless they believe it's a simulation. It's up to Lake to help them remember. When Lake reveals the truth to a fellow passenger, seventeen-year-old Taren, he joins her mission to find everyone, persuade them that they've forgotten reality, and wake them up. But time's running out before the simulation completely deconstructs, and soon Taren's deciding who's worth saving and who must be sacrificed for the greater good. Now, Lake has no choice but to pit herself against Taren in a race to find the secret heart of the sim, where something waits that will either save them or destroy them all.

Author Notes

Parker Peevyhouse teaches part-time at a tutoring center and a K-8 school. Her first novel, Where Futures End, was published in 2016.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this postapocalyptic adventure set aboard a spaceship that houses the only survivors of a nuclear holocaust, a young woman continually delves into a virtual reality scenario to rescue the teens still trapped within its programming. Lake, 17, knows that the ship, which is swiftly breaking down and running short on supplies, can't return to the Earth's surface until everyone is released from the simulation. It's getting harder, though, to find her companions in the virtual San Francisco they've created. Worse, odd glitches in the simulation mean that no one is safe, and Lake is risking her life by going back in. Even with a simulated version of her sister and the recently reawakened Taren to aid her, Lake may not be able to succeed before time runs out. As the story alternates between the dilapidated spaceship and the virtual world, Peevyhouse (The Echo Room) skillfully blurs boundaries and perceptions, with the simulation's mutable reality hiding both questions and answers about what's really transpiring. As Lake wonders about her own motives and secrets, the story becomes somewhat obscured in ambiguity, even as it explores the grief and trauma felt by these few survivors mourning their lost world. Ages 13--up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Jan.)

Kirkus Review

A young woman must free those trapped in a simulation aboard a failing spaceship before it's too late.It's been decades since Earth was devastated by nuclear war. A lottery granted a group of San Francisco teens the chance to board a billionaire's spaceship and remain in stasis until the Earth is ready for their return. But something has gone wrong with Paracosm, the simulation meant to provide a safe haven for their minds. The ship's systems are failing, food is running out, and if its inhabitants don't awaken, returning home might not be an option. Seventeen-year-old Lake is able to dip in and out of the sim without losing herself, and when she rescues a boy named Taren, he insists on helpingbut the sim, and some within it, has other ideas. The landscape is shot through with a pervasive sense of dread that follows Lake and Taren as they navigate the often dangerous corners of the Paracosm. However, the inevitable twist offers little surprise, and the narrative grows fuzzy toward the end. Still, Peevyhouse (The Echo Room, 2018, etc.) deftly explores the grief that Lake and Taren carry for their home planet and the loved ones they left behind, which inevitably shapes their virtual world. Most characters are white, but some diversity is suggested through names of secondary characters.A not-quite-satisfying but still heady trip into a creepy, surreal virtual world. (Science fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

You woke in a simulation, and then you woke to reality, he told himself. How do you know, each time you wake, that you're waking at all? Peevyhouse's mind-bending sf thriller takes place in space, on an exploratory vessel that fled a dying Earth, and in the mind, in a simulated, postapocalyptic reality intended to prepare the ship's inhabitants for their return. The simulation is supposed to end when the ship receives data that the planet is habitable; instead, only a fraction have woken from stasis, and the ship is failing. Seventeen-year-old Lake and her shipmate Taren spend more time in the sim than out, looking for the lost sleepers and helping them find an exit. First, though, they have to convince the sleepers they're not in the real world, a difficult feat given the program's immersive environment and tricky manipulations. Lake has multiple fail-safes to protect herself from losing track of reality, but even she has doubts. Peevyhouse presents just enough information about the technology and Earth's fate to intensify the stakes, then focuses on telling a fascinating story. The intricate, ontological puzzle at the heart is grounded by relatable characters and desperate situations, and the tension increases with each layer of reality Lake peels away. Compulsively readable.--Krista Hutley Copyright 2010 Booklist