I wasn’t sure if I would really be into this book, since I’m no gamer, but I was. Like, really was.
First of all, the book isn’t about gaming so much as it’s about the game developer. And when I knew that, my brain still wanted to turn off because “developer” conjures images of computer programming and Xbox and all kinds of stuff I am so far removed from it’s not even funny. But the main character’s game is a by-mail game. Like, he mails players out a scenario, they write what move they want to make, and he mails them back how that moved plays out. I just found that so fascinating, because I had no idea that was a thing.
Beyond the interesting game set-up, the main character has been through a terrible trauma that leaves him incredibly disfigured. Also, the story is told in reverse order (which has a neat tie-in with the novel’s title, which you get about halfway through). My first inclination was to be horrified and kind of flabbergasted at the end, but because it’s written in reverse order, I started to consider the story from the narrater’s beginning (which is the end of the book) to the end (which is the beginning of the book). Taken that way, the book has an entirely different tone.
Something else I really liked was the design of the cover and how that tied into the story. Okay, this is going to sound like a reach, but just remember that my majors in college were writing and graphic design and bear with me. So, the cover is difficult to look at because it “vibrates” and hurts your eyes, but our narrator is also really difficult to look at for other people because of his disfigurations. At one point in the book, we learn that the narrator knows he’s difficult to look at and even though he’d rather people stare if that’s what they want to do instead of pretend like they were never looking, he’s also kind of happy that people aren’t looking at him because he’s a really private person. When he does finally meet someone who’s not afraid to stare and to ask him questions, he has a really great conversation with that person. It’s like the book’s cover is an extension of the narrator, and it’s trying to see if you’re the type of person who will come in and have a conversation, or if you’re going to write the story off by how it looks on the surface.
In short, this is a very cool book for readers who like to sit around and analyze/wax philosophical about what they’re reading.
There were times when I was actually less interested in finding out what was going on with the narrator’s game players (which is supposed to be the driving force of the book) and more interested in just finding out what the heck happened to him, so that would be the biggest letdown of the book for me. But in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. Highly recommended.
What about you? Have you read this one? What did you think?