Book Review: Gamers by Thomas K. Carpenter

In a nutshell, Gamers is a cross between Tron and The Matrix with a little bit of The Hunger Games (or other YA dystopian novels) thrown in. In the story, setmin the future, students earn points (in video game fashion) for everything from playing games on the way to school, to brushing their teeth at night—a development resulting from students always needing incentives to achieve, and society always needing to be in competition. It’s a great read for video game fans, as there are many references they will enjoy. For non-video game fans (I play video games occasionally but am not a huge fan), it is a scary reminder of one possible direction technology may take us as a society. Almost to the extent of The Matrix, everything in this society is digitally manipulated, from the appearance of a room to the appearance of a person.

Protagonist Gabby has been earning points steadily throughout her career as a student. Her “high score” leads her (and her parents) to believe she’ll be accepted into the university. Gabby has also been hacking—it’s against the rules, but it shows us how smart and able she is. One day, she meets an attractive young man who eventually brings her to a remote location to reveal that things are not as they seem—that there is a world beyond the curtain of this one, and it is controlled by people whose intentions may be sinister. It turns out that students who don’t score highly enough in the game—disappear. Not only that, but the people in charge want to audit all of Gabby’s files, which she cannot allow for many different reasons.

I won’t give away the ending, but I’ll say that this is the first book in a trilogy. It was a fast read and an interesting concept. My one wish is that there was more imagery, or possibly explanation of slang—the world Carpenter creates is so different from our own (in most ways) that I wanted to see even more imagery to establish it. Some of the scenes rely on video game stereotypes, but for a non-gamers, a bit more imagery would be nice. (Still, I loved some of the stereotypes: “Oh Mario!” is used as a mild oath!). Still, before long I was entranced in the story and wanted to learn the secrets of the world. It’s a book that young adult gamers would enjoy, and I plan to bring the book to my high school classroom for students to read—I think they’ll enjoy it!

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion. The opinion expressed is entirely my own.