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Gamerunner Paperback – 4 Jul 2011
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Praise for B.R. Collins:
'A writer of real power' (Guardian)
Praise for The Traitor Game:
'A wonderfully gripping book for teenagers . . . Brain food that's well worth feeding to your teenage boys - and stealing from them afterwards' (The Times)
Praise for A Trick of the Dark:
'A multilayered, metaphysical thriller . . . dark, uneasy and extraordinary' (Big Issue)
Praise for Tyme's End:
'From the moment we see Oliver's grandfather in thrall to Jack, watching as the older man pulls the legs and antennae from a beautiful green beetle and places it back in the grass, it's impossible to put the book down' (Guardian)
A stunning departure into a futuristic world of computer gaming. From award-winning author B.R. CollinsSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
It is futuristic book, and like many other in its genre, people outside are struggling to live. The world is bleak. The protagonist, Rick, is the son of a game creator, so they both live safely in the game company Crater, a large complex they will never be able to leave. Rick is a gamerunner, and all he had ever done in his life is play the never-ending Maze, a game that you, yourself, move around, kill enemies, loot bodies and so forth. Trapped in Crater, he has relatively low human contact, with one or two friends and a mysteriously-behaving father, who he doesn't feel he knows too well. We get the idea he doesn't experience feelings and emotions much, as we find out he doesn't know what crying really is. He starts to realise he lives in a cruel world, and starts to long to escape.
At some points he does act in a silly way, but once I'd finished it, I decided that whatever he did, the ending would be the same, and the reason I'm giving this 3 stars (I would say 3.5) and not anything higher, is that it does feel a bit plain, pointless maybe.
I'd recommend this to teenagers, both boys and girls, around the age of 12+? It does have quite strong feelings in it, and for a smallish book of 260ish pages, I'd say it is quite complex. I found at some parts it was depressing, and the ending left me in a confusion of feelings. There were, however, bits of humour that kept it light. I think the author, B R Collins, has somewhat successfully tried to write quite a challenging story, and it did remind me a little of "The Knife of Never Letting Go" by Patrick Ness, yet is still very unique. I will read it again sometime. I do feel she could have make it longer, and I had quite a few unanswered questions when I'd finished the book.
The main thing I can say about this, overall, is this probably won't be what you expect. The first chapter or so made me consider putting it down, but when I'd finished it I had an urge to start again.
'Gamerunner' starts with a brilliantly-written action sequence, which sets the tone for the whole book. Fast-paced, compelling and slick, the story has enough momentum to grab your attention immediately and enough psychological drama to keep it. It's not especially deep or literary (although it's stylish and intelligent, with the action scenes particularly having more flair than the usual "and then he hit him" school of description) - but it's a good strong story told with panache. The characters are dark, and there's nothing very heart-warming or consoling about the way they interact, but that just adds to the nightmare feeling that grows and grows until the book reaches a (literally) explosive climax. The computer/virtual reality aspect is clear, even for non-gamers, and manages to evoke the drama and attraction of computer games.
If you're a fan of Collins's work, be prepared for this to be a bit different, with more emphasis on action than emotional drama - but it's definitely worth a try!
The hero, Rick, is one of those heros whom you don't know whether to cry over or slap around the face. The reader is plunged into this world with him and not told anything so you have to suck up every scrap of information the author feeds you in order to understand what's happening and understand Rick's situation. This is actually a really clever piece of writing as it makes the reader feel the kind of dark chaos and confusion that Rick feels as his world suddenly changes and no one will tell him why it has changed. He then makes some really stupid decisions (which is when I wanted to slap him!) but he's making those decisions based on his life and the reactions he would have in The Maze - and that's the point at which I want to cry over him because actually, his life is The Maze and he has so little experience of real life that he doesn't know what to do or how to behave in reality. You go through his first real world experiences with him that he should have had as a child but is only just getting round to them as a teenager, like crying, pain and death. It's like his realities have switched but unlike The Maze where he can just start again when he dies, he can't escape the horrors of real life and he doesn't know how to cope with them. And no one will help him.
I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness as I read this book and funnily enough it was actually the kind of heart-hollowing loneliness I often felt when I used to play computer games for too long. B. R. Collins really knows how to tap into that part of your psyche that is attached to playing games and if you don't play computer games, you'll know exactly how it feels.
Gamerunner is not a happy read but it is a very important read, a brilliantly written insight into a dangerously possible future where care for the real world has been replaced by care for a virtual world. As the real world becomes less habitable for humans, the virtual world becomes the only place where a person can really live but it is just as cut throat and unforgiving and gradually enslaves the entire population who are addicted to escaping the world they've ruined. Despite being in a privileged position, Rick is no exception to this, he is the greatest slave of all: a slave to his father, a slave to The Maze, a slave to Crater, a slave to the outside world, Undone, and because he's never learnt how to live in the real world he is first and foremost a slave to himself.
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