Initially, I expected to leave a stellar review. The concept of recreating “The Matrix” with different parameters got me turning the pages. In this book, Earth is a virtual reality where the players–who are children in the “real” world–are born, experience life in the VR, and die with only minimal passage of time. They then take their performance-based earnings and re-enter with additional capacity. Meanwhile, the wealthy of Tygon watch in a “Hunger Games” fashion as the virtual lives unfold. It’s an interesting premise, albeit clearly adapted from other works. I enjoyed the character development, and I felt attached to the protagonists.
Unfortunately, the first book leaves a great deal to be desired. First, the didactic instruction leads to boring dialogue, and it becomes very repetitive. Second, the action is limited. We spend the entire book waiting for something interesting to happen, but are instead fed a large dose of “set up” with very few interesting scenes. Finally, the unforgivable: there is no resolution. Any good series, such as Harry Potter, to give an obvious example, will develop several “story within the story” motifs, and the conclusion of each individual tome leaves the reader satisfied. Schott fails miserably on this count, dragging down a 4-star book to 2-stars.
It was as though the entire first book is an advertisement for the series, which may turn out to be brilliant, but I will never know.