October 20th, 2016

Book with cat: hugging book

Book #50 of 2016: Gamescape: Overworld

First off: YAY 50! I made it to my goal for the year, with lots of time to spare! And what a good book for #50, too!

Gamescape: Overworld by Emma Trevayne
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Set on a just-barely-future Earth, where the problems have progressed further in the direction they're already headed (the air is a lot more polluted, the ozone layer mostly gone so the sun is more dangerous, etc), a company created a VR game. It's an escape from all the problems that people have, so "everyone" plays it, from teens to adults. (There's a minimum age, 12 I think it was, before you could play. But everyone over that spends much to most of their free time in the game.) It's the most popular thing on the planet, in part because you can earn "real life" rewards from it -- non-game item rewards.

And what prizes those are! The rewards are basically cyborg upgrades, everything from a mechanical finger to eyes that can function as cameras to engineered replacement organs. That last prize is the important one to our teenage main character, because he was born with a bad heart and is dying.

Luckily he's very good at the game, and on track to win the prize he needs...if he lives that long. Then he's tapped on the shoulder by the gamemakers to enter a special beta version of a better version of the game, one with even greater prizes, and thus an even higher chance of him living.

What made this book especially interesting were the "cutscenes" -- very short chapters about the gamemakers. Twice in the course of this book I questioned the author's decisions. The first time was during one of these cutscenes. She described the gamemakers as "basically psychopaths" and I rolled my eyes and got frowny at that. Where's the sense in that? Why would psychopaths make a game for the whole world to enjoy? But not only was that explained, the cutscenes/reasons behind the game were the best element of the whole story. They kept me guessing until the end, and I loved the twist about it!

The second time I second-guessed the author was near the end of the book. The main character and his two teenage friends successfully hacked into the computer system of the biggest company on the planet. The kids had never once hacked before. I'm SO glad I didn't stop reading at that point, because like the first example of me doubting the author, this was fully and completely explained in a 100% believable way.

It's so rare to find an author I can trust. I've read so many books where the characters do utterly unbelievable things, it's wonderful that everything in this book made sense and was realistic.

This was one of those rare times when I went offline earlier than usual at night, just so I'd have more reading time before I had to sleep.

I can't wait to find more books by her to read!

Back to school...

I feel like I'm copying tersa: I have to take an online college course for work. Hers is in Spanish, mine is in Technical Writing (which is the job I do, so hey, that should be handy... though it would have been more handy two or three years back).

It's kind of odd. I'm really nervous about doing everything right, but I guess that's a good thing -- I'm taking this class more serious than I did any class I took while in college.

Part of the reason I'm worried about it is money. I HATE HATE HATE how my company handles paying for it: I have to pay for it 100% (class and textbooks both), then assuming I pass and don't quit the company before finishing the course, they'll pay me back. That sort of makes sense for them, but... ugh. I've paid more than $1,000 for the class and two books, and I'm really uncomfortable with the worry of not getting that back.

I've done one assignment and one "class discussion" (commenting in a forum) thus far, and my grades were good (two As -- 93 and 98), but this is just the intro stuff so far, no technical/real work yet, so we'll see how it goes. Still that's 1/8th of my score so far, so good start.

Hm, I suppose I should do more reading for it instead of puttering around on LJ. :P
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