Monday, July 28, 2014

Erebos : it's a game. It watches you.

Erebos  by Ursula Poznanski
translation from the German by Judith Pattinson

Like most of his friends, Nick Dunsmore enjoys playing video games.  But he's never played anything like Erebos.  The rules are strange:
*  Always play alone.
*  Do not talk to anyone about the game.
*  Don't copy the disk unless instructed by the game.
and strangest of all:
*  You have only one chance to play.  If you break the rules, or if your character in the game dies, the game is over and you can never play again.

Strangest of all, the game itself seems to know when players break the rules.  But how?

As more of Nick's classmates join the game, things get even more bizarre, especially when the game insists that players conduct "missions" in the real world.  Some missions seem quite innocent, like picking up a box hidden in a park and hiding it in a different park.  But soon enough, the missions become sinister.

The story is nearly as compelling as the game itself.  Players quickly become addicted to the adventure, and many are willing to do anything to gain status within the world of Erebos.

Yes, anything....

More dire than Ready Player One (Cline, 2011), with less gore and fewer technology details than REAMDE (Stephenson, 2011), this game-gone-bad novel will appeal mostly to teen gamers.  Sophisticated readers may trip on some of the setting details, some politically incorrect racist and sexist statements which may or may not be a result of translation into English from German, and the distinctly Scooby Doo ending: "foiled by those meddling kids!"

Recommended for ages 13 to adult.

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