Wednesday, 1 November 2017

 

Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller [blog tour]

I have been really fortunate with the books I've recently read as they've all been incredible. You know how sometimes nothing really grabs your attention and you end up in a bit of a reading slump? I have been experiencing the exact opposite this past month and Otherworld was another winner. It was a proper geekfest with incredibly intriguing world-building that had me thoroughly hooked throughout. I'm normally not much of a sci-fi reader, but after discovering the imaginative world hiding within the pages of this book I'm definitely keen to explore the genre more.

18-year-old Simon is an avid gamer. He spends most of his time inside virtual realities so he can avoid his parents, and life in general, and so when a brand-new game is announced that supposedly blows everything he's ever seen and experienced out of the water, he makes sure that not only he gets his hands on one of the very few headsets in the first release for himself, but he obtains one for his friend Kat as well.

Kat has been his best friend since childhood, but lately they've drifted apart and he hopes that what he is unable to say to her in the real world, he might be able to get across in the game instead. However, while he starts out playing Otherworld just for a chance to talk to Kat, the game soon turns more serious when Simon comes to realise that there are two types of headsets. Some of the players can feel real pain if they get hurt in the game, and not only that but when they die in the virtual reality, they will never wake up again.

Suddenly the dazzling computer designs that make up the lands and creatures in Otherworld become far more sinister. No longer is this the most advanced computer game Simon has ever experienced, it's a real-life fight to the death. And it's not as easy as just disconnecting from the game never to return again either because there are other players, like Kat, that are stuck in Otherworld, and the only way for them to escape is to finish the game.

And then there are those in the real world that want to keep the truth of Otherworld hidden and so they do everything within their power to ensure that Simon, Kat and the others never make it out...

Kids getting stuck in a virtual game and having to fight for their lives against computer pixels perhaps isn't an entirely new concept (see also Sword Art Online), but the execution in this fast-paced page-turner by actor Jason Segel and his writing partner Kirsten Miller was hugely refreshing and unexpected and this was one of those occasions where it was near impossible to close the book when my commute was over as I *had* to know how it would continue.

There were so many unexpected twists and turns, both in Otherwold and the real world, that I was constantly on the edge of my seat, eager to discover where the story would take me next. I loved all the video game references and terminology scattered throughout, bringing the multi-layered and fantastical world to life while at the same time gaining some proper geek cred.

Interestingly, protagonist Simon wasn't someone I was particularly fond of, but the exciting world-building – both in the real world and the virtual one – the highly riveting conspiracy theory story and the fascinating side characters I want to explore in more detail are what made this book so gripping and fascinating to me.

Like its title foreshadows, Otherworld really is something else. Sure, it's a fascinating exploration of the potential impact of technological advances in today's society and a coming of age story with a dash of romance thrown in, but it's also another thing entirely. It's a dangerous and addictive world, both for the characters and readers, where nothing is quite like it seems – and once you start playing it's impossible to stop.

Head's up, it does finish on a killer cliffhanger and we have to wait until Autumn 2018 for its continuation, but because I loved it so much I'm willing to wait for it (/cheeky Hamilton reference).



Otherworld
is published by Rock the Boat and you can get your copy now from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.



This review is part of the official Otherworld blog tour, make sure to check out the other stops for extracts, reviews and more!



🎵 Listening to: My Chemical Romance – Teenagers
🔹 Mood: Sleepy



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