December 02, 2012
Gamers by Thomas K. Carpenter
Gamers is a book about, well, Gamers. Running with the dystopian theme that is so popular right now, Gamers provides a look at a future where people have shifted over to a very technological reality. I actually enjoyed this book quite a bit, and thought that it offered an interesting approach to the genre. I'd probably give it 3.5 stars because of some things I'd like to see improved, but even so, it had a way of drawing you into the story.
Gabby is a somewhat hacker and gifted student that is preparing for her Final Raid. In Gabby's world, people are ranked by points that will tell whether they get into a job by university or be regulated into the lower class jobs offered to those who don't score high enough. These points are built up by performing regular tasks, playing games at school, and in general succeeding at life. When Gabby's reality is disrupted by a group dubbing themselves the Frags, she learns that her world is not quite what it seems. LifeGame is more real than one could imagine, and the consequences for not scoring high are dire. Especially in the Final Raid, which will determine her and her classmates fates.
Gabby is an ok character. She seems to genuinely care for her friend. Her parents are a different story but we don't see much of them so it doesn't seem to matter if Gabby likes them or not. The Frags as a group were interesting, but we only had a limited time with them so I couldn't really feel connected to them or their plight. I would have liked to know more about this and why Gabby trusted them so much, but I suspect that is reserved for the next book in the series. Gabby's friend also had a limited time in the book but Zaela is a character I connected with. She's an artist, and while that's not highly valued in Gabby's worl, I value it. By contrast, Gabby spends more time with her arch-nemesis, the leader of a group called the Evil Dolls during the final raid. Which don't get me wrong, she was a complex character, I just don't think she should have had more time than Zaela since she's so integral to Gabby's life.
The plot was interesting. Being a past gamer myself I was able to appreciate the Dungeons and Dragons type setting of the last raid. In fact, it may have even brought back some memories for me. That being said, people who aren't gamers might not understand some of the lingo that was used, but I don't think it was greatly devastate their enjoyment of the book. I also didn't really understand the role of the government in the book and why precisely they were fighting a war. There were hints at it all over, but nothing was ever really explained about why such an entity came into the power it had. I also realize this could come in the later books, but it would have been nice to have a little more background to understand Gabby's world together. As it is, it's almost alien. The actual running of the games and the points system was well done. I could see the concept being used efficiently to rank people, and while I may not understand why the games are so important compared to reality type life skills, it made the book interesting to read about the different types of games. I also liked the descriptions of how they could change their rooms and appearances. It just added to the total effect of Gabby's world. The book is descriptive which helps because there is a lot of detail in it. It may end somewhat abruptly, but that just gives a good reason to read the next book in the series.
An interesting take on a dystopian book. I can definitely see myself reading the rest of the books in the series at some point.