Author: Ursula Poznanski
Pub. Date: January, 2012
Summary: An intelligent computer game with a disturbing agenda.
When 16-year-old Nick receives a package containing the mysterious computer game Erebos, he wonders if it will explain the behavior of his classmates, who have been secretive lately. Players of the game must obey strict rules: always play alone, never talk about the game, and never tell anyone your nickname.
Curious, Nick joins the game and quickly becomes addicted. But Erebos knows a lot about the players and begins to manipulate their lives. When it sends Nick on a deadly assignment, he refuses and is banished from the game.
Now unable to play, Nick turns to a friend for help in finding out who controls the game. The two set off on a dangerous mission in which the border between reality and the virtual world begins to blur.
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Thriller
It was just a single word that was completely unknown to Nick: Erebos.
The students in Nick Dunmore’s school have started behaving very strangely. They aren’t showing up for school and on the rare occasion they do, their eyes are glazed over as though they haven’t slept in weeks. No one will say a word about it and there are mysterious packages being exchanged. Nick’s determined to get his hands on one and see what all the fuss is about.
He gets his wish: one day a girl named Brynne hands him a CD. She refuses to say anything more apart from telling Nick he must never tell anyone about it and that it’s a really, really, REALLY awesome game. Nick excitedly rushes home to discover just what makes Erebos so great.
The whole time I was reading this I kept getting a distinct 90s vibe despite all the mentioned of ipods, etc. I’m thinking it was because there was a movie that had a very similar premise (and, of course, for the life of me I can’t remember the title).
Erebos is on the longer side, particularly for a YA novel (my ARC was 440 pages), but the story is so fast-paced it feels like it’s half that length. I was able to knock out hundreds of pages in a sitting – something that I normally don’t do – with ease.
At first, the computer game seemed awesome! It really knew everything about Nick and could tell when he was lying. At first it would send him on little quests in the real world – find a box here and take it across town and leave it hidden, take a few pictures of a particular car – and at first it seemed completely harmless. However, as Nick progressed throughout the game these quests became more and more violent and ultimately resulted in Nick being kicked out of the game for good when he refused to completely one of the quests.
People are getting hurt in the real world and no one can say anything about it. Nick’s best friend Jamie is the voice of reason: he refused to accept the game from day one and insists that something needs to be done to stop it. One of their teachers notices that something dangerous is going on and the pair team up and attempt to find out what’s going on.
I won’t spoil the Big Reveal, but I’ll admit I’m a little disappointed. That goes for the big showdown at the end as well. It seemed too convenient.
The one thing I didn’t like about this book was the translation. Overall, it was great: the sentences seemed natural and flowed really well. Unfortunately, there were a few that were so horrible that I had to read and re-read them multiple times before finally giving up (“Actually,” he said, “it’s the logo of Vay too far.” for example). Also, these are sixteen year-old teenagers. The expressions they used just didn’t work for me: Emily swore in an unladylike fashion. “It’s all double Dutch to me.” While I understand the expression, I have never heard a teenager use it before.
Overall, Erebos was great! It had a male protagonist – something that seems pretty rare in YA, a really interesting premise, and an amazingly quick pace. However, it’s stilted translation was a bit difficult to read at times and took me out of the story.
Nick took advantage of his friend’s change of mood and asked one last question. “Has the game ever actually crashed on you?”
Now Colin laughed. “Crashed? No. But I know what you mean.” He lowered his voice, as though he feared someone might be listening in. “Sometimes…it just doesn’t want to work. It waits. It tests you. Know what, Nick? Sometimes I think it’s alive.”
His software learned, it could read, and it could make use of what it had read. It analyzed the computer user and gave him what he really wanted, deep down inside. Amazing. No wonder none of them had been able to drag themselves away from Erebos.