Gard Skinners first Young Adult title, Game Slaves, blasts open with a stunning fight scene you would play through in the middle of a video game. As team leader Phoenix describes the new girl on his team, he vividly describes the world they live in.
The next hundred pages is reminiscent of dull rehashing of Sophies World, targeted at 14-year-old boys who for some reason will end up forced away from the controller stuck in their hands and into this volume.
Wreck-It-Ralph meets The Matrix after about 125 pages, when the book finally hooks and we finally get out of the video game world and start receiving answers to our questions. Finally, the characters we have spent the past hundred pages trying to invest in actually grow some depth – with the exception of Dakota, the only character who has so far had any depth, who some how manages to regress.
Skinners attempt at leveling cyberethics to a comprehensible level for teenage guys (and gals) comes off like that college course that you could not stay awake during, despite how much ice cream you ate before.
Indeed, Skinner’s grisly dystopia haunts more deeply than most in this era of hype about the dim future we have at hand if we make the wrong decision. He plots a future most likely if our society continues to be controlled by the true powers that exert their force on our daily lives.
Game Slaves by Gard Skinner (ISBN:978-0-97259-6) is available in Hardcover on January 7th, 2014 and is published by the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group. Thanks to @HMHkids for sending me an ARC of this title. Check out the book on Facebook. You can also check out a preview of the first two chapters here.