Originally reviewed 1st June, 2012
This book is an enjoyable nostalgia-fest for classic video games (and music, and literature). It misses out some stuff that I’m sure a geek of this calibre would’ve loved unless he died in the eighties (which isn’t the case), but it’s still fun. If you love gaming and the internet and the idea of a virtual reality that you can plug yourself into and live in, then you’ll probably be interested.
Of course, it is about a teenage boy, so there’s the attendant immaturity and some creep factor (hello, there is nothing noble and wonderful about looking through the girl you like’s files without her knowledge or permission to find out what she really looks like; just because someone else collected the information doesn’t make it less creepy). I liked the twist about Aech, though, and Art3mis is pretty awesome.
It did bother me that emotional impact was lacking. Poor Mrs Gilmore gets mentioned a couple of times, but the narrator doesn’t make you feel the guilt he says he’s feeling, and he skips over it easily. There are a couple of deaths in this book you should feel something about, and you… don’t. Part of that is the whole gaming-culture idea of having another life in reserve, I guess, and maybe it’s intentional that that bleeds through to real life too.
Still, it’s a fun book, and it made me want to go play Pac-Man and so on until my eyes go square, which I suspect it was meant to do.
I wouldn’t say it’s particularly YA, despite the age group of the protagonists. They have quite juvenile concerns, it’s true, but the nostalgia is not aimed at this generation’s teenagers.