August 2015, Lulu, 226 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Content: morals, gaming, choices, a bit of weirdness
Tired of arguing over which of them was the best gamer, Josh and Alex stumbled upon a new video game shop, run by an enigmatic Japanese shopkeeper. He was to be their Game Master in this virtual reality video game that had no game controls. Little did they know it was a game that would change their lives, of their friends.
I was intrigued by the concept of this book. Being in a living game sounds fascinating, and how the boys experience the game is clever, because as a reader I frequently didn't know if they were in real life, or still in the game which replicated real life. I liked the concept that each level made the friends learn how their behaviour affects others, how they can improve their relationships with others, and become better people. The scenarios in the book are ones readers will be able to relate to.
However, as you can see from the grade there were elements which were a bit too weird for me. Sometimes the description was over detailed, the pacing of the action getting tied up with describing exactly how everyone was in the scene. There's no denying The Game Master is a total weirdo, and I kept feeling he was a bit evil and had a hidden agenda, but that didn't materialise into anything. I also struggled with the way the game score was calculated, using tables and numbers.
Because I mostly read when I'm fuzzy headed due to a mixture of constant fatigue and medication side effects, the complexity of the scoring washed over me. I wanted to understand it better, but in truth I skipped past the tables as soon as I saw them, because the explanation by the Game Master made sense. Sometimes the levels in the game dragged a little bit too long for my liking. Overall it is a good read, and the end was a predictable surprise.
The only book which is vaguely similar to this one is part of the Chewy Noh series, book #2 Chewy Noh and the Phantasm of Winter by Tim Learn (Young Adult, 10/10E)