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Book #40 of 2016: Multiplayer | Abandoned book: Click Here To Start

Two books about gaming. One I abandoned and one I should have abandoned. I've been on a books about gaming kick lately, after I loved that one about esports so much. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find another one as good. The completed book first:

Multiplayer by John C. Brewer
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



"Are you trying to tell me that Osama bin Laden is alive and playing video games?"

Yes, yes the book is.

For a book about gaming, this story started in a very odd way: A bunch of ISIS terrorists sitting around in a cave, trying to figure out how they can train when every time they leave the cave, US drones/forces find them and kill them. The one American convert has an idea: Use MMORPGs -- massively multiplayer online role-playing games.

Then the story moves right to a teenage boy who (get this!) plays a MMO. Can you guess where this story is headed? The kid's father was in the military, but an ISIS roadside bomb killed him, now the kid hates all Muslims. (Usually when I use the dislike/hated rating for a book, it's based on the quality of the writing. If this story had been wonderfully written and fully believable, I still would have given it a dislike. It was so very unpleasant to spend eight hours of reading time in the head of someone so rabidly racist.)

Why did I keep reading this book? I loved the MMO and how the author handled the whole gaming part of the plot. Whenever the main character played the game, the author treated it like the kid was really in the game world (as his character). It was such a natural way to handle it, I didn't even realize the author was doing it until a few chapters in. It was so realistic, a perfect reflection of how you can get lost in a game.

I'd really love to play that MMO, too (even if it wasn't really believable as a real game). The game is a duplicate of the entire planet -- if it exists on Earth, it's in the game, however it's all post-apocalyptic. But the idea of players being able to help make the world real is such a great one -- want to see your childhood home in the MMO? Submit photos and details to the dev team, and in a day or two a realistic copy of the building will exist in the game. (Like I said, not realistic at all, but still cool.)

Unfortunately I spent the whole book struggling with if the adult characters were believable or not. I kept thinking no, not at all... but so much stuff happened, maybe I couldn't be a fair judge of it. (The woman's husband was blown to bits and she was dealing with a racist son -- was it fair for her to scream at him at the drop of a hat? Maybe... But it kept feeling like one of those "all adults suck and exist only as challenges for the teenage main characters" YA books.)

The end of the book decided the whole "believable adults or not" issue for me: The FBI made the teenagers into special agents. Teenagers. In high school. No training at all.

"Therefore, as of right now, you -- the four of you -- are Special Agents of the FBI."

Even the kids were unbelievable at times. The bad guy caught the teens and was doing the usual "I'm going to talk at you a while before killing you thing... TOTALLY NOT TO GIVE PEOPLE TIME TO COME RESCUE YOU!" thing, and the main character reacted:

"If you're going to kill us, just shut up and do it!" blurted Hector. "This is the worst monologue I ever heard! Do it!"

There was one part that made me especially frowny, though this one was no fault of the author. The day after Trump told his followers to go shoot Hillary, there was this line in the book, main character thinking:

American political parties might not always get along, but at least they weren't killing each other.

As if those weren't issues enough, I saw in advance every single twist and "surprise" in the book. I'm horrible at guessing what's coming, it's so rare for me to be right about it (I don't want to guess! I like being surprised!). And that this was a YA book is no excuse for that -- many YA books do surprise me with their twists.

I skimmed the last 20% of the book. As much as I liked the story's MMO, I really wish I had given up on it sooner. Even though the main character saw the error of his racists ways in the end, it was just such an unpleasant book to spend time with.


Click Here To Start by Denis Markell
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I was expecting a book about gaming, and got a book about teenage relationships and... well gaming, but not the kind of gaming I was looking for. The main teenage character played "Escape the Room" puzzle games (where you have to just click on everything you can to find clues, then put them together to escape), and when his hoarder uncle dies and leaves him everything he owns, the kid has to play an "Escape the Room" game for real. zzz

I read 24% of this book, and for a while thought I might read to at least the halfway point, but more and more it became about the teens' relationships (friendships and crushes) and that was the nail in the coffin for me.

Current To Read pile count: 166
Tags: 2016 books, book review, book: click here to start, book: multiplayer
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