7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Get Thee to an Editor,
This review is from: For the Win (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Programme (What's this?)This is the third Cory Doctorow novel I have read. The first, Little Brother is a tightly plotted techno-thriller, that examines the abuse of technology in the war on terror. The second, Makers is a much more bloated affair, detailing the use of future technologies to bring about an economic new world order. 'For The Win' sits somewhere between the two.
Again, we are in the near future. 'For The Win' features a host of disparate characters all tied to the multi-million dollar gaming industry. In essence, this is a tale about the powerful and rich exploiting the weak and poor. Many of the characters 'farm' computer world gold, which can then be sold for real money, through the black market. These farmers work on repetitive in-game tasks, in sweatshops run by unscrupulous bosses. They are paid a pittance whilst the bosses cream off all the money. The novel charts the exploits of a group of works campaigning for better rights for the oppressed farmers.
My game playing days are sadly now behind me, but I found the central premise intriguing. That there is serious money to be made by hoarding a virtual asset in something as facile as a computer game is barely credulous, but Doctorow knows this stuff inside out. There is no doubting the integrity of his information, or his vision of the future. Unfortunately the resulting novel just isn't that exciting.
There are some great sections in the novel, Doctorow's vision is breathtaking, but once again (like 'Makers') his story becomes bogged down in the details. For every exciting chapter, that has the Chinese police breaking down doors, or the Indian gold-farmers defending their livelihoods, there is a verbose chunk of pseudo-intellectual economic theory. It breaks the flow of the story, ruining the novel's pace.
Doctorow is well known in the blogosphere, a place where it's safe to ramble on as much as you want about whatever you like, and has an ardent following of like-minded readers. They will no doubt love this novel, but if like me - you are passing through, searching for an entertaining read, then brevity is what you will be looking for. 'Little Brother' had this. It was accessible, readable and exciting. 'For the Win' is crying out for a ruthless editor with a sharp pair of scissors.
'For the Win' is readable enough, but too often it feels like you are reading somebody's intellectual ponderings rather than a coherent novel. The tension does build well towards the end, but ultimately, realistic though the ending is, it is something of a damp squib. The excitement and tension ebbs away, leaving me only with the frustrating sense of opportunities missed.
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Initial post: 21 Jun 2010 10:33:33 BDT
Big Ben says:
Hmm.... my own youthful computer gaming days preceded the internet, but that does not prevent my greatly enjoying this highly entertaining and well-constructed book. For me, the clear and clever financial analogies worked really well, and flowed smoothly. But ymmv, so I had better do my own review!
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