Peter Banuk is a video game developer. His last project was a bomb so he’s been working overtime to make sure that his latest project. It’s a Catch-22 that a lot of working professionals face … Banuk wants to take care of his family – a wife and two daughters – and he wants to do that by working at something he knows well and enjoys. But working at the pace he does means that he is not spending time with the people he loves and wants to provide for.
Things go from bad to worse when Peter’s friend and tech partner shows him a new high-tech virtual reality set-up that, if it works as well as his friend says it will, will change the gaming world. Peter is given the chance to try it out and he can’t believe how real the visuals are. This VR head gear takes him places that are otherwise unimaginable.
But something goes wrong just as the simulation is finishing and Peter becomes stuck in the VR world. He knows he’s stuck. He knows that somehow his consciousness is still moving about in a VR world, but the world he’s in now is exactly like the real world … except that he has no daughters. He might otherwise believe in this world or even be happy to work within it, but giving up his two precious loved ones is more than he can bear. But he’s a video game developer … he should be able to program an exit.
In general, I liked author Ron Walters’ writing. There was a lot of energy to the story and the characters which made this an easy read.
The story, however, of someone stuck inside a VR video game already seems over-used in today’s market. It seemed pretty novel when I watched Tron back in 1982, but not so much since. Still, I honestly believe it’s hard to find a story or concept that is really and truly completely new and not a take on an old story (though I am amazed when I find something that really strikes me as novel), so we need something fresh and unique to make an old story worth reading again. I didn’t find that ‘newness’ here.
What bothered me more, though, was the very ‘one note’ status of our protagonist. Yes, the loss of two daughters would absolutely be devastating, but he didn’t lose them in the sense that they died … they just never existed in this VR world. Still, yes, a major loss, but he focuses … obsesses on this … throughout the book, as though if he can convince someone finally that he really does have two teenage daughters then he can find his way out of the VR world. I got a little tired of this, which is too bad, because, as I note, I actually liked the writing style.
Ultimately this doesn’t really hold up and make this recommend-worthy.
Looking for a good book? Author Ron Walters takes on a fairly common theme of being stuck inside a VR video game in the book Deep Dive. The writing is strong but the plotting and character-building hold the book back.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Ron Walters
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 288 pages