Books I Have Recently Read and Enjoyed

Day’s Verse:
There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,

a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19

This is Not a Game, by Walter Jon Williams.
Synopsis: Set in present-day LA, Dagmar works as a puppetmaster creating immersive alternate reality games as a marketing ploy. The book opens with Dagmar trapped in Jakarta as the Javanese currency plummets into worthlessness. She eventually escapes with the help of the network of contacts formed by the online cohort of people who play her games. These people aren’t convinced her predicament is not a game, but they pull together to help her connect with a group of Muslim martial artists who escort her to a fishing boat chartered by one of the online players. She is relieved to get back to LA and normal life, but her normal life is shattered when one of her close friends is murdered right in front of her. Soon the game she’s running and her attempts to find the murderer — and, eventually, to save the world — all begin to entwine.
My Response: Importantly, the author gets the technical part right. He doesn’t try to pretend to write like people on a forum, but convincingly portrays Internet interactions. The writing quality is on the moderate-high end, so you won’t encounter any new vocabulary words but you don’t stumble over awkward phrasing. The author’s writing style lets you get sucked into the book and forget you’re reading, without having harsh writing-related roadblocks wrenching you back into reality. The author does an excellent job bringing scenes vividly to life with lively imagery and just the right amount of detail. There aren’t many characters, and some of them feel rather weak, but the narrator herself has plenty of interesting quirks that make her seem real. This book is not about their past or feelings, so a certain amount of blurriness in the characters’ histories isn’t a problem. The plot is well thought out and executed, and not completely obvious from page 1. The first part of the story particularly, with Dagmar trying to escape from Jakarta, is very compelling. The rest of the book, although cleverly plotted and containing a number of good twists, ends unexpectedly and on an odd note. Even so, Ian and I both read and enjoyed it.
Rating: We would buy this at a used bookstore to add to our book collection. Continue Reading >>