Ashley Akachi is a young woman (a teen or recently former teen) living in two worlds. In Ditchtown, the slum dumping grounds for all the lowlifes and runaways, built on top of what was once a city called Miami, Ashley is a tough, scrappy girl, trying to deal with her brother who is slowly giving up on everything, and the hordes of boys and young men who want to keep Ashley in ‘her place’ through sex and violence.
In the other world, a digital, virtual world known as Infinite Game, Ashley is known as Ashura the Terrible. She is the leader of a group of gamers called Sunjewel Warriors. Special devices allow their every physical move to be translated in the virtual world and with tight precision and trust, the Sunjeweled Warriors are the dominant gaming team in the world. When they log in to a game, live streaming of their games sees skyrocketing numbers of viewers.
Though she tries to keep her in-game exploits separate from her real-world troubles, the same can’t be said for those who compete around her and she must constantly prove herself. And when she learns about a conspiracy, the game gets real on the outside.
This was a quick, fun YA read. It will likely sell moderately well as much for the author’s name (Chris Kluwe was an out-spoken professional, American football player [a punter for the Minnesota Vikings]) as for the story.
The writing is good. The development of Ashley/Ashura is done well and the building of the story flows nicely. The additional characters on the other hand…? We don’t really get to know any of them too well. They are clearly there to support Ashley and whatever she is doing.
And the story itself…? Let’s just say that you shouldn’t be surprised if it all sounds familiar. Tron anyone? Ready Player One? Ender’s Game? Make the primary character a tough, YA female (someone who’s had to be tough all her life, so she’s prepared for what’s coming) as opposed to the passive, reluctant male hero who has to step it up, as in the previously mentioned books. Still, the story is essentially the same.
If I had a teen daughter who liked sci-fi/fantasy, I’d probably put this book in her hands, and she’d likely enjoy it. As an adult who often enjoys reading YA, this was good. Yeah … I requested it based on the author’s name, and not the story description. And while this doesn’t turn me off to Kluwe’s writing, it also doesn’t make anxious for the next book, either. For his next book, I’ll likely be more particular about the description and the early reviews.
Looking for a good book? Otaku, by Chris Kluwe, is exciting, but familiar, YA fantasy in which the virtual world and the real world collide where a wily young woman succeeds in both worlds.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Chris Kluwe
publisher: Tor Books
hardcover, 352 pages