Stuck in the Game (2016)
By Christopher Keene
Stuck in the Game is an MMORPG-themed young adult novel that readers should check out. If you like video games, online gaming, or are interested in gaming technology, Stuck in the Game, takes you on a journey to a fictional cyber world of fantasy and magic.
Noah Newbolt is connected to the Dream Engine, a virtual reality helmet used to put a player in an MMORPG. He is connected to it because it is the only thing that’s keeping him alive after a fatal car accident. While in the game, Noah needs to remain alive because if he doesn’t, he could stay in a coma forever.
One of the things I found interesting is the background of the virtual gaming console. Noah and Sue imply that the Dream Engine is a drug addiction. In fact, we learn about the various addictions that players have while playing this particular game. The book seems to make a statement about the dangers of too much gaming by comparing it to a drug addiction and overdosing, which is an interesting aspect to look at.
I also thought the descriptions of each setting in the fantasy game world to be highly detailed and creative. In practically every chapter, we are introduced to a new realm of the game that Noah explores or does a dungeon run in. Each new area has a special theme to it.
Although the settings are mesmerizing, it became formulaic about what’s going to happen in each chapter. Noah would go into a dungeon with a team and they defeat their opponents and gain new skills and weapons. In addition, I felt like each chapter with a dungeon run was rushed because readers get a vivid and detailed beginning with so much action and dialogue, but when it came to the main opponent or boss fight, it was just only a few paragraphs of description, almost as if it was unimportant. But in my head, I was questioning, “Why does the author build up the suspense but then give an anti-climatic ending?” And this thought ran through my head to the very end of the book because I was worried that the end was a letdown. (I’m not going to reveal the ending or my thoughts on it. If you want to know what happened, you have to read it yourself.)
Furthermore, I felt that the romance within this book wasn’t developed well. It felt too generic and dry. I just couldn’t understand the “love square” between Keri, Chole, Sue, and Noah. It felt like an unneeded harem—unnecessary and also the romantic relationships didn’t feel genuine.
Yet overall, if you are fans of anime such as No Game No Life or Sword Art Online, this is a young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel you should check out.
Note: I received a copy of Stuck in the Game from Future House Publishing in exchange for an unbiased review.