Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Game is Altered - Mez Packer - Guest review

For a while I was in two minds about this book. The beginning did not grab me and it quickly became confusing, but after the first couple of chapters I settled in with it and ended by thoroughly enjoying it.

The story is set in what seems to be the near future. The world is slipping into chaos; Britain is overcrowded with a very serious immigrant problem; there is no petrol though there are electric cars and everyone has a 'Google' with which, apparently, you can access practically everything electronically at will.

Lionel Byrd is the adopted son of a missionary, taken from Kenya as a baby. He has two brothers who apparently hate him but a serious accident in childhood means his memories are very limited. He lives in a flat around which brothels and drug dens proliferate, and he is drawn into a very nasty situation but his interests lie mainly in a computer game, in which he can be a hero, and in his younger sister who loves him. He has a cat with a brain tumour, Buddha, who is his closest companion.

As the story continues, Lionel begins to discover things about his past and his family, adopted and real. He is basically a loner, able to integrate only with the characters in his computer game. He works in a secretive government department. Knowing his cat is dying he constructs a computerised version of Buddha which is imported into his online game. By the end of the novel he knows both more and less about himself and his family and takes a very final decision.

I liked Lionel, his sister Lilith, and many other of the characters. The villains are villainous. The whole story moves fast, with chapters covering the present, the game, and the action of the game following one another throughout.

I have to admit to knowing very little about computer games but I found this book enjoyable and fascinating on many levels.

Reviewed by Penny Waugh - guest reviewer

Many thanks to Penny for reading and reviewing this novel for The Little Reader Library.

'The Game is Altered' is published by Tindal Street Press.

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