I read this via Netgalley.
Summary: Nick’s been noticing how some of the other students at his school are acting strangely. He isn’t sure why, until Brynne gives him a disc and tells him the rules: Play alone. Play in secret. Nick readily enters the world of Erebos, a video game unlike any he’s ever played. The game seems to think for itself, and gives him tasks in the real world that give him levels in the game. Soon he’s obsessed. Now the game wants him to help eliminate its enemies. How far is Nick willing to go for the game? And what does the game really want?
Nick – Your average Dark Elf, er, teenage boy, who treats his friends like crap because of a stupid video game
Emily – the DeviantArtist Nick’s crushing on, who kinda loses her cred for me when she gets sucked into the game – but she is smart and it’s more of a “fight the game from inside the game”… I really wanted more of Emily in the story
Jamie – morally opposed to the game, and the game targets him
Brynne – wanna-be who gives Nick the game because she’s crushing on him. I really disliked how she allowed Nick to treat her like crap, plus she did one of the worst things in the book
Victor – a pro-gamer who figures out what’s up with Erebos with a little help from the kids. Although he’s freely hanging around with teenagers, which is a little sketchy.
So many characters, so little time
Okay, so there were a lot of characters here, and each character had a duplicate in the world of Erebos. All the gaming characters had bizarro names, like Sarius, Drizzle, Wardynna, Sapujuju, etc. (The last two I may have made up). It was a bit difficult to keep them all straight. When the game narrows down the players to the Inner Circle, most of the Inner Circles characters were unknowns, and I felt like the story lost a bit of its strength there.
Kinda like World of Warcraft…
While some of the dialogue sounds a bit old-fashioned, the tension between the game and real life is probably familiar to most modern gamers. It was interesting to see how Nick’s real-life relationships suffer as he becomes more obsessed and begins applying the game to real life. The references to the Greek myth was an interesting red herring that made me suspect some kind of paranormal mystery, but the real mystery was just as interesting. The dangers of the game’s quests were real but nothing overly extreme, and it was fascinating to see how the game operated on making all the players work together toward one goal.
Will teens press pause long enough to read this?
I’m not sure – this is a big book, over 400 pages. But it read quickly, and it gives video games a magnitude that people would like to feel when they’re playing. So it’s a possibility. That being said, if the publishers developed some kind of app or social media tie-in, it would probably do well.