Otherworld by Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller
This summer, our family is making time to read family-recommended books. Jacob suggested we all read one of his favorite recent discoveries, Otherworld. It was a happy coincident, too, because I had been thinking he might like to read the classic Ender’s Game. And when I read the reviews of Otherworld, one stated that it was an intriguing cross between Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I agree, though I think you could also add a dash of Westworld and a pinch of The Matrix. If that doesn’t pique your interest, then this probably isn’t the right choice for you!
In this near-future sci-fi, a popular video game is advanced to new heights. For some players, with a headset, it feels as if you are really in this world through your avatar. Of course, when you are “killed” or hurt, it is your avatar who is sent back to the start-up point. But in a terrifying advance, some players are hooked up by disks attached to their brains. For these “guests,” it is all too real: the good news is, you can touch taste, smell, feel everything. And that’s also the bad news, because if you are hurt, you are truly injured. It’s that real!
Kat and Simon are at the center of an adventure that hopes to save the “real world” from the villains (The Company) that rule (and reap profits from) the players that become addicted to “Otherworld.” It’s more complex than that, though. The characters are intriguing: Simon is a tall, thin, and gawky brilliant teen, known for his prominent snoz, inherited from his low-level gangster grandfather, who also becomes a minor character. Kat has her own mysterious background and present-life with a step-father who is one of the arch-villains of the Company. Lots of twists and turns as the story delves deeper. Other characters include a brainy teen hacker, a Russian oligarch, a few adult programmers with their own issues, and more. I am looking forward to discussing it with Jacob and the rest of the family. And then, reading the sequel, of course (Other Earth).