Author: Walter Jon Williams
Release Date: 1/1/2010
Recommended Audience: Young Adult
The Good: Great premise, likable characters, feels “today”, an idea we haven’t seen before
The Bad: Characters feel a tad generic, rushed ending
What would you do if MMO’s were real? No, I actually mean real. That is what Walter tries to bring onto readers in This is Not a Game. They are called ARG’s (Alternate Reality Games) and a mega corporation invests in writing the scripts, hiring actors etc. to plant clues in real world locations for people to solve, but what if the players were to solve real world murder cases in these ARG’s? That is what Dagmar Shaw does and tried to find the mystery behind her three college friends. The book is chalk full of mystery, suspense and quite a bit of drama. Walter also tried the keep the book in “today” using internet terms like Facebook, YouTube, Xbox, etc. to keep it hip and cool. Does this make the book a sell out? No, it does because Walter uses it sparingly and when it’s appropriate.
Thanks to the book being very “now” a lot of younger readers might be interested, but the game has a huge political plot twisted in that has to do with attacks on foreign currency, and this may turn some of the dimmer minded away. The characters are very strong and likable in the book, but you always feel you not getting the whole picture. The book has great pacing and doesn’t really jump around characters since it evolves around one (Dagmar) and you see what goes around her and in her mind. This makes you really like Dagmar, but she does seem a bit generic and average some times.
The book just really shows how social networking can get out of hand and become a nightmare, and thanks to Walter’s choice of setting and sticking to the “now” this can actually happen today. The ended tended to be a bit rough and rushed, and I wished we could have known a bit more of what the characters were going to do after the end or if there was going to be a sequel (knowing Walter’s work probably not). I highly recommend this book to gamers, social networking fanatics, sci-fi buffs, and anywhere into the “now”.