D.B. Weiss' first novel, "Lucky Wander Boy", is a story seemingly about a young man who ruins his life because of his obsession with the video games of his youth, and one game in particular - Lucky Wander Boy. But don't be fooled! The Video games that populate this book are every bit the McGuffin as was the black bird of Hitchcock's "Maltese Falcon". As you read, you will become increasingly aware that the story is really about something very different. It explores the protagonist Adam Pennyman's relationship to life as expressed thru the video games he plays and often worships.
The book is tightly written and cleverly concieved. Unless you have the vocabulary of a William Styron, you may want to keep a Webster's handy. The story alternates between narrative and sections of explanation and exposition about various videogames, some real and some the product of Weiss' quirky imagination. You may find this movement disconcerting or even confusing, but be patient as the confusion is purposeful and a necessary part of the creation of the mindset through which Pennyman views life.
You may also find that the portrayal of the people who populate Pennyman's world are sketchy and poorly defined. This is also an interesting device, as the author brings us to see that Pennyman views the real people with whom he lives (and sometimes loves) as characters in the video games he plays. People who are being moved around the screen of his videogame existance without feelings or real personalities of their own. The clue to this attitude comes early in the book when Pennyman, while watching a TV interview with Kurt Krickstein (a man who will eventually become his employer) remarks, "His childhood features had remained with him, but in the transition to early middle age they had become cartoonish, as grotesque in their own subtle way is the latex F/X creatures in the background behind him. I knew it was hip to like cartoons, but I didn't think it was hip to be one."
This book may grab you by the throat and take you on a wild ride of a reading experience. However, if you are a person who likes formula books where the hero is beset by seemingly unsurmountable challanges and where all the problems are solved and villians vanquished in the last 10 pages, this may not be your idea of a good read. If you are open to a thought-provoking and alternate way of looking at life this intelligent novel will not only be your cup of tea but the entire box of teabags! And the ending may leave you physically and emotionally breathless, as it did me.
Read this book. You may love it - you may hate it. I guarantee that you will turn the final page and feel that you have read something very different.