The Gamers trilogy will appeal particularly to fans of, Tron, Doctor Who and Pullman’s The Golden Compass (Northern Lights). It really does have everything: mind-bendingly awesome gadgets, characters you can’t help but care about and even a side-order of romance. But more than that this story, while deceptively simple on the surface, challenges readers to consider the big questions regarding our existence.
We learn here that Mary Shelley’s novel was a fiction and a fabrication, Victor Frankenstein an unreliable narrator, to put it kindly. All in all, he’s a nasty, contemptible piece of work. Friedrich Hoffman is cast as an outcast, a wanderer and an avenger whose route towards payback takes in encounters with various Gothic grotesqueries: vampyres, werewolves, devil-worshippers, pseudo-Satanists (a la the Hellfire Club) and maybe even Dracula himself.
Though the ultimate purpose of the book does appear to be didactic – global warming and impending environmental catastrophe are generally accepted within the mainstream scientific community as proven fact – and the parallels between Dr Lipkin and the author’s own studies are probably the subject of at least a few fascinating interviews, the story reads well as fiction, creating each world entirely so that the reader becomes engrossed in the historical time and place along with the protagonist.
This notion of self-awareness is one that is handled delicately and with it, Paolini creates a book that is far more powerful than simply a fast-paced plot driven fantasy about a war between good and evil. Eragon’s growth is one that takes him beyond the moment of his conflict to a connectiveness with the world he lives in and beyond, through the older dragons he encounters.
The stories read quickly, and are very easy to follow and get into, which speaks to the appeal these books have for reluctant readers. There is a good mix between action, reflection, and dialogue, and the stories are well written, with the wholesome theme of good conquering evil in a variety of forms keeping everything positive without descending into corniness.
Even upon ending, the reader unfamiliar with DF Lewis’ work isn’t sure whether one has reached an understanding of self or the dream or made it to reality again or whether they should perhaps start over and read once more. It is a very well wrought book that many fantasy lovers will enjoy for the statement it makes by unmaking.
With its shades of Alice in Wonderland, Misfits, Supernatural—and others—this series will delight the Twilight generation. Meadows has handled her large cast of characters with ease; each is as multi-layered and complex as the plot—which really is a slippery thing: easy enough to grasp, but not so easy to hold onto. It twists, squirms and folds back on itself, all the while keeping readers guessing.
This book is brutal and unforgiving. The author is not afraid to graphically depict the consequences of violence, he is not afraid to introduce you to a lovable character and kill them off later in the story, and he is not afraid to let the characters become increasingly unhinged and desperate. He uses gritty dialogue, gritty events and gritty locations to depict a world in the throes of the greatest change it has ever seen. And all these things are just right for a story such as this one.
After reading the above, one might be forgiven for thinking this is nothing more than an entertaining story aimed at an electronic game-mad audience. But don’t be fooled, Gamers’ Challenge is far more than that. What this story does is challenge our notions of reality. It raises all the big existential questions, offers some answers and then turns everything on its head.
A English fenland family faces the truth about their history, and what they discover is deeper and darker than they could have imagined. Bill Hussey is the new M.R.James.