88 Names by Matt Ruff

88 Names88 Names by Matt Ruff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

All the reviews compare this book to the iconic Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and I’ll fall in line. It is themed around online gaming, in particular MMORPG, massively multiplayer online role-playing games, although Cline’s book used a broader range of computer games as its theme, and was much more family friendly.

Here John Chu is a paid “sherpa” who leads newbie MMORPG players through the games so they can survive and level up without too much pain. His mother is some sort of nebulous federal paramilitary NSA-Air Force type computer badass. His father is a Sony executive with access to special effects, helicopters, and whatever else the ridiculous plot requires. His sherpa crew consists of a bunch of characters whose real names, locations, and backgrounds aren’t clear and turn out to be important parts of the plot. As you might expect, plenty of carnage occurs online and some pretty scary and rough situations develop in real life, too. I won’t say more in order to avoid spoilers.

If you’re sensitive to gore, gross sexual stuff, and foul language, be warned: this one gets pretty raunchy and bloody at times – needlessly in my opinion. The online trolls or “griefers” are perhaps the worst, but it happens even with the so-called good guys. The book is weak on plot. Way too much time is spent on fanciful descriptions of imagined gaming events and characters. The author manages to turn me off totally to the idea of ever participating in one of those games. Based on this depiction, no one but sociopaths plays them. The bottom line is that if you think this genre might appeal to you, read Ready Player One and stop there.

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