Edit: Oh, this book is currently free as an eBook on Amazon ( as of the time of this writing ).
I could get over the awkward sentence structure, and I could even overlook the grammar errors. What really took away from The Game was that the novel fell into the traps that plague the sci-fi genre as a whole.
More on that below.
"What if life as we know it was just a game?
What if, instead of traditional schools, children learned by participating in a virtual reality simulation, one that allowed them to experience "life" from birth to death -- multiple times?
What if one player, on his final play, could change the world forever...?"
A few brief, quick thing things to note: there's a few grammar errors. I can overlook that, personally.
What's more problematic is that the sentence structure can sometimes be jarring. A sentence out of place can completely disrupt the flow of reading.
The final thing: the pace dragged. HARD. There is very little drama or suspense. This book is carried by it's interesting premise and the back story of The Game itself.
The novel alternates between the real world and the game world. The game world is a mirror of the real one, only controlled by a supercomputer-run AI named Sylvia. Sylvia is essentially the "god" of this world -- in both the literal and figurative sense.
In the real world, The Game is used to create "contributing members of society" by having adolescents live through a life ( or multiple lives ), and making mistakes in that controlled simulation. The Game has become a replacement for all reality television shows and drama on TV, with the "players" being those under the age of eighteen.
The Game garners so much attention that players are "sponsored" by various companies and wealthy individuals, which are called Patrons ( ...this sounds familiar. )
As a player plays "The Game", they earn credits, which they can either save until turning eighteen ( which are then turned into real world currency ) or use the credits to buy another play-through in the game. The cost to play through again increases as you get older, but in addition to that, you can purchase upgrades, skills, and "scenario's" for yourself -- to help direct your life.
How many credits you get is based off of a lot of vague factors, but the two big ones that are mentioned in the book are: The number of viewers watching that player at any given moment, and the "ripples" that player leaves in the world when they die.
"...One thing is certain though, the final rank of a player is weighed heavily by two things. One factor is how they affect those that they leave behind on Earth. If a child dies fifteen days after it’s born, but its death inspires people to get active and help others, by forming a charity or even just volunteering for instance, then the player who was that child ranks much better than a player whose avatar lives 80 years and contributes nothing to society. The second factor is based on how many [Real World] viewers a player has during the entire duration of their play."
Schott, Terry (2013-12-24). The Game (The Game is Life Book 1) (p. 260). Terry Schott. Kindle Edition.
Again, all interesting stuff, on a surface level. I mean, you can basically define your entire life to be the most awesome, amazing thing ever, if you have the "credits" to it. But luck plays a factor into everything, as usual. And the whims of Sylvia ( though she tends to not interfere with the players too much ).
The book is told from multiple perspectives, and even in multiple different formats -- we jump from third person past tense in one chapter, to first person past tense in another chapter. I will say that the author did manage to pull that off reasonably well, despite it not being something I enjoy in novels.
The real problem that came with that was the characterization.
The male lead ---
( Zack in the real world / Trew in the game ) didn't have a bad personality, wasn't wish-washy or whiny, and wasn't TSTL -- but he didn't stand out, either. And that can be JUST as bad. In fact, he was rather bland, even when he was actively perusing his goals. I felt like switching to so many different narratives didn't help this, and only exacerbated the problem ( or tried to cover it up, depending on perspective. )
The main heroine ---
( Alexandra / Danielle ) was similar. She didn't stand out in any form or fashion. She wasn't annoying, bothersome, or TSTL -- she was just bland.
Most of the supporting characters ran from being interesting-but-not-enough-page-time to flat.
The main "villain" of the series gets a chapter, though, which I found interesting. He was a nice, refreshing change of pace -- nothing quite like a "Hmm. Who do I feel like killing today?" to change the mood.
Which brings us to the next point.
There is none. I mean, lots of stuff happens, but at the same time, not...really. 40% in and the entire thing was still a lot of build up. There's talk of plans, deals, secrets, but nothing really happens until way further in.
I wasn't expecting epic laser battles, honorable duels, or space dragons. But a space dragon could've really helped bring some action or drama into the book.
The only drama that happens, happens at the 80% mark ( Page 226 of 283 ) and at the very end of the book.
Which ends in a cliffhanger.
Like most science fiction novels, this one falls into those holes I mentioned before, primarily:
The technology that makes "The Game" possible is a complex use of brain-scans and sophisticated equipment. Where is all the medical possibilities for this? It's never mentioned, at all.
In addition to this, in the world of "The Game" itself, time goes by more rapidly -- you experience time the same within "The Game" as you do in the Real World: a day in the real world is equivalent to a year in the game.
Where in the hell is THAT used outside of The Game?
One thing I felt was accurate: Sylvia, the supercomputer AI, could stop hack attempts out-right. That? I completely believe. AI is a dangerous, powerful thing -- that kind of AI would be even more so.
But the technology itself?
People around the world would kill for that kind of technology, never mind companies who would spend billions to mimic the technology, but nowhere else is it ever mentioned.
Corporate espionage would be at an all time high. Billions upon billions of dollars would be poured into getting that technology out to the world.
On top of this, there are those one-percenters that would invest THAT much money to be able to go into "The Game" over and over, despite being over the 18 age limit. I just can't buy that the technology would NEVER be used anywhere else, at least even partially, or that other companies / people aren't pushing for something similar.
Overall, the book was interesting, but those pitfalls that plague the science fiction genre ( characterization, technology ) didn't help. Great idea, shaky execution.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Recommend: For people who like interesting world building, "game" based novels, and don't go in expecting action ( or too much drama ).