I’ve never resisted the urge to DNF a book so much. I had thoughts of DNF-ing at just 4% into the book, and I might have if not for the fact that I’m reading this book for a blog tour. I told myself, “hey, maybe 4% is too early to judge a book. give it another chance, or a third, or even a fourth.” So I did. And I liked it. Here’s my review. Enjoy!
!! i consider this a spoiler-free review but as usual, read at your own risk !!
(The Nova Project #1)
by Emma Trevayne
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia
Publication Date: 13 September 2016
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
The planet is dying. Centuries of abuse have damaged the earth beyond repair, and now all the authorities can do is polish the surface, make the landscape look pretty to hide the disease within. Two prominent yet mysterious businessmen couldn’t fix it, either, but they did something even better. Together, they invented Chimera, the most complex and immersive virtual reality video game the world has ever known. The Cubes in which Chimera is played quickly became a fixture of this landscape: part distraction, part hospital, and almost wholly responsible for holding up the failing world economy.
Miguel Anderson is also dying. He isn’t the only one who plays the game–everybody does–but Miguel has more reason than most: When players leave their Cubes for the day, the upgrades and enhancements they’ve earned for their virtual characters leave with them. New lungs to breathe poisoned air, skin that won’t burn under the sun are great and everything… but Miguel, born as broken as the earth, needs a new heart–and soon–if he wants any hope of surviving just a little longer.
Then the two Gamerunners announce a competition, with greater rewards and faster progression than ever before, and Miguel thinks his prayers have been answered. All he needs to do is get picked to lead a team, play the game he’s spent years getting good at, and ask for his prize when he wins. Simple, really.
At first, things seem to go according to plan. Mostly, anyway. Inside his Cube, with his new team–including his best friend–at his back, Miguel begins his quest. He plays recklessly, even dangerously, for someone whose most vital organ could give up at any moment, but his desperation makes him play better than ever. The eyes of the world are on him, watching through status updates and live feeds, betting on his chances. With greater rewards, though, come greater risks, and the Gamerunners seem to delight at surprising the competitors at every turn. As he ventures deeper into a world that blends the virtual and the real to an unsettling degree, Miguel begins to wonder just why the game was invented at all, and whether its stakes could be even higher than life and death.
My thoughts kinda progressed from “did I make a bad decision signing onto this blog tour” to “wait I think this is getting somewhere” and finally “oh this is pretty damn good”.
Despite the story being set in the future, it draws inspiration from ancient myths, specifically Greek and Christian ones. Maybe I should have gotten the hint from the fact that the game is named Chimera but I didn’t expect more mythology references. There were also several aspects of our modern world integrated with it, for example, the prevalence of social media in our daily lives and the significance of digital footprints.
I actually really enjoyed this book, because it’s not what I had expected. Actually, I’m not sure what my expectations were. Maybe an over-powered character like Kirito from Sword Art Online? But Miguel is nothing like that. He’s good at Chimera, not because he’s strong, but because he understands the game better than anyone else, causing him to be able to progress through the game faster than the average player. He isn’t invincible. For one, his health is weak. He also understands that he can’t complete the game alone, that he must work with his teammates and work towards the end goal together.
The story was a bit dry at the start but it starts to pick up somewhere after the 25% mark, especially when the competition started. I loved reading about the interactions between Miguel and his teammates, the obstacles they faced, and how they progressed through the game as a team. The fact that Chimera is a game that combines both puzzles and fight bosses together also ensures that there is never a dull moment when we’re reading about the team’s adventures in the game. The puzzles the team had to solve at each level never failed to amaze me.
One thing that might put readers off is the writing ― it is passive, maybe even lacking in emotions at times. It’s like the story is told from a third party’s point of view who has access to Miguel’s thoughts, and decided to narrate them. There’s quite a lot of telling, instead of showing.
He gets the distinct impression that it’s a good thing
the gaming room is empty, their visors and sensors
locked in their cabinets, because there’s nothing handy
to throw at him. But he also doesn’t think she’d throw
anything that’d hurt too much.
For the most part, once I had gotten used to the writing, I found that I actually liked it. It was something different. It made me think about what I had just read. There were all these subtle details added in here and there and the rich description really helped bring Chimera to life, easily helping readers immerse themselves into the game.
The sun isn’t the only problem, but it’s one of them,
the biggest, and during the day it illuminates all the others.
While I’m a tad bit disappointed by the last chapter, overall, this was an enjoyable read for me. If the summary interests you, I think you should totally give it a go. You may like it, you may not, you may DNF it in the end, but it is worth your time.
About the author ― Emma Trevayne
YA sci-fi/cyberpunk writer. Fan of words and music and chocolate. Represented by Brooks Sherman of FinePrint Literary Management. My first novel, CODA, will be out Spring 2013 from Running Press Kids, and its sequel, CHORUS, will be released the following year.
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