HEAVEN IS A PRISON. HELL IS A PLAYGROUND.
Ross Baker is an overworked scientist developing medical technology for corporate giant Neurosphere, but he’d rather be playing computer games than dealing with his nightmare boss or slacker co-workers.
He volunteers as a test candidate for the new tech – anything to get out of the office for a few hours. But when he emerges from the scanner he discovers he’s not only escaped the office, but possibly escaped real life for good. He’s trapped in Starfire – a video game he played as a child – with no explanation, no backup and, most terrifyingly, no way out
I’ve enjoyed Brookmyre’s work for a long time, he has a unique, energetic turn of phrase, as well as a relish for the comedic violence and the kind of careful, smart plotting that comes from paying attention and understanding. He’s always had an understanding of video game culture that lends itself really well to a book that is a fast paced journey through multiple game worlds and thick with pop culture references. For all the praise that Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One got, Brookmyre does it with a lot more ease and a better story. That, though , comes with this being work from a more experienced author than Cline is.
It’s Tron with a healthy dash of social awareness and irreverence, a swift and enjoyable read with just enough heart to keep you invested and action sequences that capture the fizzing joy of video games. There’s a comic book sense of invention that demands your investment in it, and the third act becomes an emotional, beautiful investigation of what constitutes consciousness without being preachy or condescending in the least.