By Toby Downton
E-book, 432 pages (paperback)
2015, Toby Downton
I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
Virtual reality mixes with real life when players enter Solarversia, a year-long video game mixing real life locations with virtual elements. 100 million people will compete for the 10 million pound prize. But when a religious sect sets their sites on the company that founded the game and some of its players, the game turns deadly.
First off, I’m sorry for the terrible blurb – I do try to describe books in my own words these days, rather than just copy from Amazon or somewhere, but this book was so uninspiring.
Once more, I was enticed by a premise only to be incredibly disappointed with the plot, characters and writing quality. I made the mistake of reading this book at the same time I read Lumiere, so I felt like I was being bombarded with ridiculous character names and paper thin plots. I can only stomach so much originality when it comes to character names. Nova, Artica Kronkite and Sushi (which just made me hungry), I was peeved from the start.
The world of Solarversia felt like a bizarre, childish version of World of Warcraft, populated by millions of tiny, talking monkeys called arkwinis (ark-weenies? ark-win-ies?). There was a lot of lore that I c couldn’t bring myself to care about because every time Nova travelled to a new place or met a new character, I felt like I was reading a bunch of gobbledygook thanks to all the strange names Downtown created. The emperor of the alien world is named “Emperor Commissaire de Spielen Von Unglai D’Acheera Nakk-oo Mandlebrot” and with a plethora of similar, gibberish names, I couldn’t connect with the world and it felt more like something aimed at small children than our 18-year-old protagonist, Nova. Downton occasionally mentioned virtual reality elements layered over real world locations, which is a great concept, but I think it was underdeveloped.
The characters were lifeless, rendering any character deaths or negative situations emotionless for me. I just couldn’t seem to care about anything happening. The leader of the crazy religious cult was your typical whacko, monologuing villain who was more focused on how he exacted his revenge rather than actually carrying it out and destroying the people he wanted to destroy.
Overall, I think this novel was a sad echo of the work of Cory Doctorow and Ernest Cline. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend this book.