Author: Ursula Poznanski
Publication Date: 1/19/12
Publisher: Annick Press
Blurb(GR): An intelligent computer game with a disturbing agenda.
When 16-year-old Nick receives a package containing the mysterious computer game Erebos, he wonders if it will explain the behavior of his classmates, who have been secretive lately. Players of the game must obey strict rules: always play alone, never talk about the game, and never tell anyone your nickname.
Curious, Nick joins the game and quickly becomes addicted. But Erebos knows a lot about the players and begins to manipulate their lives. When it sends Nick on a deadly assignment, he refuses and is banished from the game.
Now unable to play, Nick turns to a friend for help in finding out who controls the game. The two set off on a dangerous mission in which the border between reality and the virtual world begins to blur. This utterly convincing and suspenseful thriller originated in Germany, where it has become a runaway bestseller.
“A game you can’t buy. A game that talks to you. A game that watches you, that rewards you, threatens you, gives you tasks.
'Sometimes I think it’s alive…’”
To anyone who’s ever been a MMPORG addict/widow(er) I think this book will be particularly frightening. And to everyone else, who’s sitting there right now, saying…really? Could a game really consume your life like that? I invite you to visit this website, where level 85 World of Warcraft characters are frequently sold for upwards of $1,000. In real currency! I also invite you to consider just how many hours you yourself have devoted to reading book reviews…twitter…random/amazing tumblrs…. I know I’ve definitely been there – sitting in front my computer at midnight thinking…I’ll just do this one more thing…and the next thing I know it’s 3:42 am. I’ve lost so many hours of my life to the internet! It’s all-consuming!
And I actually felt pretty darn consumed by this book for the majority of it. It’s a fast-paced, highly engrossing read that I couldn’t put down. It reads quite a bit like a horror movie, which I loved. The scenes in the game are truly creepy, all the more so because they’re one small step away from a realistic gaming addiction. The main character Nick is a popular, good-looking (…with a ponytail…), entitled jock guy, of the sort that’s common in horror movies. He’s that everyguy who’s realistic and sympathetic, but just arrogant and closed-minded enough that you will really enjoy anticipating his downfall. Plus, he has a thing for the broody artist/poet girl (always a good choice) so that earns him a few more points.
Most of the characters in this book feel realistically young; however, there are a few really incongruous elements and I think that’s where the translation may have gone awry. This book takes place in London supposedly, but just check out some of this dialogue:
“’Get lost!’ Nick bellowed after him. He wanted to run after him, grab him by the collar, and punch his lights out.”
“Just wait – one of these days someone will thump you so hard you won’t know which way is up.”
“Shut your trap, kid.”
“Beat it, sister.”
“Please don’t start with the whys and what-fors.”
It’s as if this version of 2012 London were somehow cast with actors from a 1950’s gangster film. There are also a ton of really abrupt, almost jarring transitions between scenes. One moment Nick is in class, and the next he’s at home with no transition at all. And, there’s an interesting quirk with the narration: when Nick is in Erebos, the book is written in present tense, but when he’s in the real world everything shifts to past tense. I think that was meant to give the world of Erebos more immediacy, but it didn’t really work for me. It just felt odd, like his virtual life was happening in the moment but his real life was a memory. I can’t count how many times I got through a passage in Erebos, only to have my brain stumble over the sudden change to past tense. It was irritating.
This book was sitting at three or four stars until I got to about 80% of the way through. Once the mystery started to become clear…once the man behind the er…monitor… was revealed…I lost interest pretty quickly. There were also several major plot holes (Nicks parents are annoyingly present one moment and conveniently absent the next; Nick goes from broadcasting his search for other Erebos members to a sudden and convenient concern of discovery) that probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much if I had been more engaged.
Perfect Musical Pairing
Slow Runner – Strange Days