Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Review: LEVEL ZERO, by Jaron Lee Knuth

Bought my very first self-pubbed online book from Amazon. And... I was pleasantly surprised.

LEVEL ZERO, by Jaron Lee Knuth, is a YA cyberpunk sci-fi novel. The book tells of a future where pretty much everybody spends their time jacked into a humongous interactive computer network world... basically, an internet that is felt, smelled, tasted, touched, heard... until it becomes more real than reality. (Sort of like the concept behind The Matrix, though I've only seen that movie in it's edited form... but I think I still know what I'm talking about. :) )

The story is about a gamer (the games are extremely realistic just like the rest of the world, BTW) who never comes out into the real world if he can help it. He hops out to eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, and then hops back in as soon as he can. (I actually know kids who live lives kind of like that... so I can say it was a pretty believable world-build/characterization for me.) 
Then one day he and his friend get stuck in a beta test of a brand new game, and everything in the game world goes berserk, and nobody can log out... with potentially real-world fatal results.

It showed some really interesting viewpoints on gamer culture, what being a hard-core (addicted) gamer can do to your ability to have and keep human relations,... that sort of thing. It was violent, but it had no sex and no swears. I appreciated that immensely. It's hard to find a book without swears. (At least, I don't remember if it had swears...) And... I only noticed a single typo! Hurrah for self-pubbers who do their editing! The prose flowed smooth and clean. Great descriptions.

I generally manage to untangle tropes, subplots, and red herrings fairly quickly, (and there were a few in here that I found almost instantly) but the final fateful decision that the protagonist makes at the end was not at all what I was expecting. 

It's a quick read, action packed, (basically Final Fantasy meets the Matrix) and a bit cheesy in places, but a fun adventure. If you like the cyberpunk sub-genre and you want to support self-pubbed authors who have worked very, very hard to make quality products, go take a look on Amazon.

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