Here it is! My first review of the first Benrik Book club book! I don’t know what to write! I’m barely educated! Someone make Vicky take this over!
All right, you should of read the book so I’m not going to relay the plot too much. I’m just going to get right down to it. I liked the book! I did not LOVE the book, but I did really like it. I thought it incredibly clever and oddly possible. A future world that’s gone to shit and been replaced by a virtual one seems almost like a certainty in many ways compared to a science fiction fantasy. I’m basing this on how many of us are currently on the net now. Like right now. Come on, you know you just checked Facebook and a Twitter notification while you read this. Our cell phones are more advanced than some of the computers in some of our houses, and are with us all the time. So yeah, I see this as being totally plausible, which makes the book great speculative science fiction. I would absolutely be Percy in this future. In the “giving up everything for the virtual world sense”, not in the actually being skilled at video games sense. This is why I stopped playing “Farmville” and refuse to get into MMOG games like “World Of Warcraft”. It would feed my OCD in terrible ways. I have to keep this stuff in check! So yeah, plot wise, character wise, I really liked it. It wasn’t particularly original, you could argue that the plot of the book was basically Super Mario World. The hero went through some stages, beat the bad guy and won the princess. The end. Happiness presumed. How it was told elevated it for me. Which brings me to what I mostly liked about this book.
The whole thing was a giant trip down memory lane. I’m a child of the 80’s, and I grew up with video games and geek culture. I currently own, in my house right now (so come on over!), an Atari 2600, Intellevision, Vic 20, Apple IIe, NES, PS1, Xbox, and my current gaming machine a PS3. It made for a weird guessing ahead for me reading this book. When Wade describes the Quest Video and the game “Adventure”, I knew exactly that it was going to be about the easter egg. I remember being shown the easter egg of the designers credit by an older cousin and then showing it to my friends. (I wonder how we learned about this stuff without the internet?) I also remember it being a bit of a pain in the ass to get compared to how it was described and looked up a YouTube vid to confirm. When I-r0k Tried to surprise Percy and H in the basement with the Swordquest game I knew the spiel. No lies, not even a month before I had told a co-worker (and gamer nerd) all about the fabled contest. I had the game, never figured it out but I know friends and myself were in a froth wanting those prizes! Pictures can be found here, they’re STILL amazing! I WANT THOSE PRIZES! There were other rewards for readers who knew a bit of geek history. James Halliday is clearly (in my mind) based on Richard Garriot. Richard got his start programming adventure games in his parents house and selling them in local shops out of zip lock bags. He would later create the Ultima series of games and literally change gaming. It was Ultima Online that kicked off the MMRPG obsession of games, and he appears in all of his games as his alter ego Lord British, the invincible Wizard. Mostly invincible, he was killed by a player who exploited a bug in the beta version of Ultima online. It was a funny story at the time. So yeah, lots and lots to love, especially remembering what a BITCH classic video games were!
It was the memory lane thing that is going to cause me to knock the book a little bit. I’m being completely unfair, but being constantly reminded of things like what Advanced Dungeons & Dragons quest books looked like (don’t judge me for having played D&D!) the infernal game of Zork, the movies, oof… I need to get outside more. It’s also on this point where the author blows it. Wade would have to be about 200 years old in order to have watched Family Ties 5 times, Wargames 20 times, Numerous other things hundreds of times. Anyone who’s played any of these games, no matter how basic, or watches TV and Movies in larger than average numbers knows that there just is not enough time in the world for Wade and the Gunters to have been so thoroughly schooled in all that they are. It just doesn’t work. I’m basing this on, and again don’t judge me, watching 113 horror films in 31 days. It’s not easy. Trust me on this. So to have the author so brazenly throw around numbers as he does throughout the book nearly always pulls me out of it. I have shelves and hard drives full of books, comics, movies and games to play that I will NEVER get to. It’s sloppy writing, the author is geek enough to know this..
It’s not however so sloppy as to take away from the book in a big way. I caught myself running right along side Wade through that first dungeon just as I have through my (sadly literal) 100’s of hours of Skyrim,. The author knows EXACTLY how to get me the reader to feel the panic in playing a video game. It’s ridiculous how crazy stressful these fucking games are! The book nails it. For all it’s obviousness (you knew from page one that some Avatar was going to the opposite sex from what they appear to be) it all works wonderfully. I could of read an uncomfortable extra 300 pages, I so loved the world. I want the OASIS gear please. And the sex attachment with a Milla Jovoich program.
*Sad confession: I meant to post this last night but lost track of time playing “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” 😦