Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #40. Ooooooooh, a thriller. How long has it been since I’ve read one of these? Too long, let me tell you. Shame this one doesn’t measure up, I tell you.
This book, a lot like the videogames it represents, is brain-absorbingly addictive. I spent many a night up, secretly reading, gleaning from its pages the story of a videogame which has repercussions in the real world, a virtual reality which begins to seep into the one outside the screen. I wasted many, many hours thinking about this book, wondering what would happen next and how the whole setup about the game Erebos was put together. I was functioning through times where I wasn’t reading almost like I was on autopilot, not caring about the rest of the world save for the one in the pages. This has been the most terrifying experience of my life. I have been infatuated by this novel. It has trapped me in its jaws and threatened to never let go, and I screamed every inch of the way. I don’t know what came over me, but I could not get this book out of my head. I haven’t felt this way over a book for what feels like eons, and the last time I felt this over anything was when I began playing Fallout 4, where my mind was stuck in the game almost constantly. And, people of the internet, this is terrifying because unlike Fallout 4, Erebos is not liberatingly brilliant like Fallout was to a susceptible holidaying past me.
Now don’t get me wrong. Erebos is not a bad novel. In fact, the plot drives the book like a drunk Forza player drives a jacked-up muscle car. Hard, fast and without any clue given to onlookers about which direction it intends to go in (invaluable qualities in a thriller like Erebos, where you are kept guessing with each new chapter). It has all the makings of a brilliant and inspiring thriller, including a kick-ass concept like a self-aware videogame to exploit and draw readers into the novel. But for some reason, which I believe I may understand now after finishing the book, I couldn’t care less about the characters, the relationships between them, or the impact of the dramatic scenarios which play out between the covers of this novel.
The problems probably start with the main character. Nick is not immediately likeable. He’s a sporty character, but not a jock. He’s a git, but not a bad person. He knows the intricacies of RPG gaming, but he’s not a gamer. He’s poorly drawn as a character, while the world around him is graphically rendered at an amazing 60fps, full-high-definition resolution. And thanks to the fact that Nick isn’t immediately likeable, the author could have chosen to turn the book on its head. Have Nick slowly lose his humanity over the course of the book, until he is betrayed by the videogame and loses all will to live (a beautiful example of a flawed character). Or, if Poznanski wanted us to like the guy, made him actually nice to some of the people he meets. But no. So I loved this book for its plot. The honestly rather stupidly-conceived attempt at a romance angle was just a cheap shot, and since the other characters are about as interesting as Nick is, you stop caring for them. Hence I still can’t remember any secondary characters names. And when you read it, neither will you.
Erebos was published in 2010 by Annick Press. It can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear