Saturday, January 5, 2013

Melissa’s #CBR5 review #02: Gamers by Thomas K Carpenter

“The first rule [of the game] is what can be gamed can be improved.  The second rule is that everything can be a game and the last rule is to never look backwards because the past is a game that’s already been decided.”

For people that know me in real life, they know two things about me: I am a gamer, and I am very cheap.  Both of these came into play when I found this book.  First, it was on the Kindle Free store.  That is my favorite place, and just about every book on my e-reader comes from there, including this one.  The title caught my eye for obvious reason, and the blurb seemed very interesting:  life is a game, for realsies.  No points for pedestrians, but points for just about everything else a person may do.  Intrigued, I started the download, and jumped right into this book.

So, plot synopsis:  Gabby is a high schooler, almost ready to graduate and head to Blizzard University(no, I’m not making that up).  She is a top student, one who rakes in the points, but her best friend Zaela is too much of a dreamer, too much of a ‘smell the roses’ type to really do well in a school where everything is virtual and doesn’t actually smell.  Gabby spend most of her time either racking in her points, or gaming the system to help Zaela stay above the infamous line, the one that determined who moved on to University and who went on to lower jobs.

Of course, things are not all as they seem, and a mysterious group that call themselves the Frags contact Gabby, and let her see a whole new side of the world she knows, and there are nefarious plots afoot and blah blah blah, standard futuristic plot ‘twist.’

Let’s start with what I did like about the book.  The concept is great.  My husband and I often joke about if MMO’s were real life, and how many points we’d have.  This book actually reminded me of another book I read last year, The Unidentified, in that respect, though the stakes seemed slightly higher in this book.  The Frags were well written, and their motivations in the world as it was created made sense and fit with the story well.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of things I didn’t like about this book.  The author clearly had a cursory grasp of gamer culture, however, the implementation of that knowledge was laughably inept.  Carpenter throws in terms like DOTs and raids, Mario and Bowser, but it seems like he was like, ‘Oh, I can shoehorn in a term here to satiate the nerds and then I can get back to my story.’

It’s really too bad the story doesn’t live up to the concept.  The plot was surprisingly simple and predictable, and the worldbuilding was pretty fail as well.  All of the exposition didn’t connect, especially in terms of Gabby’s main antagonist at the school, Avony.  She is described as an ‘Evil Doll,’ but then is nothing but nice to Gabby for basically the rest of the book.  It was really distracting, and did not help in making me believe what the author said about the world.

The worst part, however, is that this is a trilogy, which I was not aware of when I started this book.  I have no problem with series, but I went in expecting a finish, and I got a cliff hanger, and that no fun for anyone, especially a cheap anyone who isn’t going drop a cool fourteen bucks to get the final two books in the series.

I would only recommend this book if you REALLY enjoy dystopian future books with shoehorned in gamer references.  The concept is great, but the execution is not strong, and the characters are one dimensional at best.

I give it 2 of 5 final raids

Crossblogged at Cannonball Read 5!

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