I prefer other novels about Internet, virtual reality and video games; usually I suggest to read Neuromancer by William Gibson (that is sometimes difficult to follow) and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (the infodump king who restrains himself in this novel).
I read other novels about these themes, one of them recently came to my mind: Erebos di Ursula Poznanski (to be honest I forgot it, so maybe it does not deserve the four stars rating I gave) where a video game has creepy consequences in the real world, an extreme image that comes from realistic situations.
Below my opinion on the novel.
Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
Nick’s classmates behave strangely: they became bashful, they skip frequently classes and they seem to hand one to the other an object they refuse to speak about.
Nick, annoyed and curious will finally understand this secret, it’s Erebos, a video game with well stated rules: it must be played alone, it’s forbidden to talk about the game and if a player dies it’s impossible to play again; if these rules are fulfilled the player may enter in a fantastic world, a role-playing game with a great graphic where the player has to fight monstrous enemies and can challenge other players in the arenas.
It’s a strange video game, it seems it knows about Nick’s life and his wishes, moreover the quests take places also in the real life with inexplicable and innocuous tasks.
For the reader point of view it’s evident that Erebos is everything but harmless, but knowing the video games world it’s understandable that the players are persuaded that it is a normal game, but more exciting.
A game like Erebos does not exist, but other games that make people addicted can be found also in real life, so the main theme of the book refers to something actual, clearly in the novel everything is stressed and magnified considering the features of the game.
The writing style interchanges the present time when Sarius (Nick’s character) adventures happen and the past to talk about the real life event of the main characters; the novel is engaging and the key turning points in the plot are located to keep the reader interest high.
* Erebos by Ursula Poznanski ★★★☆☆½
*I read this book in Italian