Novel Review: Gamers by Thomas K. Carpenter

Let’s be honest here. When it comes to books, I’m not always eager for review requests. You’ve probably noticed my reviews have been rather scarce these days. Doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading books though. I’ve just been quietly enjoying my reads. So when Thomas K. Carpenter asked me if I wanted to read Gamers, I was more than a little wishy-washy in my response.

I tell you, Mr. Carpenter hit me up at the right time though. I was at the tail end of my current read and wasn’t in the mood for searching for another book. So up next? Gamers. Before the review, how about the blurb?

Two points for brushing your teeth. Ten points for keeping your room tidy. Seventy-two points for the Bioeconomic Game Design pop quiz on the ride to school in your personal FunCar. Another thirty for making every hurdle in gym class. 

Life is a game, unless you’re not the one winning.

Gabby DeCorte, top student and reality-hacker extraordinaire, has been doing whatever it takes to keep her best friend, Zaela, from falling behind in LifeGame. Zaela has gifts of artistry that amaze Gabby, but none of those skills translate in LifeGame and with final exams coming up, they can’t afford to waste a single minute. But when a mysterious group called the Frags contacts Gabby claiming to know what really happens to the losers of LifeGame, she must choose between winning and what she believes in.

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First off, I want to say I’m so thankful Mr. Carpenter didn’t say, “Screw you” and not reply after my not-so-enthusantic response to his review request. Because this was definitely a book I’m glad I had an opportunity to read.

So… The style: Mr. Carpenter can be my Game Master any day. 🙂 The novel mixed the futuristic world with the gaming world. Basically, Gabby’s life was a game of racking up points in order to reach the next level. Talk about your rat race.

It totally took me back to my EverQuest addicted days. The game talk, the leveling, the never-ending pursuit to acquire more, whether it be points, gear, etc… I was there. But it was a bit more, especially in the final raid. It took online roleplaying and a paper DnD twist to it. I couldn’t help but think about:

Let’s move on, shall we?

The plot: The story was well-paced. Once I got into it, I had a hard time putting it down, even going so far as taking it to the bathroom with me. Is that TMI? One thing I will say is Gamers seemed more like the beginning of something big. The major players were introduced but it didn’t have a sense of finality to it. It was more as if it set me up for the end of one adventure while opening the door for a whole new adventure. I haven’t read the full trilogy yet, but I definitely would say Gamers isn’t the book to stop on.

Okay… I really want to ruin this book for you with sentences that start with “like this one time…” But I know you’ll hate me for it. So… let’s talk about…

Characters: The novel was told from Gabby’s POV. She started out very much a part of the system, very focused on the end game, which in her case happened to be getting into the grand university. She reminded me a lot of the AP straight-A students I’d encountered while working in the high school. She knew what she wanted, how to do get it, and didn’t slack in reaching her goals. Yet she never acted like she was better than everyone else. She was just a regular kid (except for being a super genius) with typical problems…. well typical until the poo hit the fan. I liked her.

The other characters were rather fleeting. They didn’t take up much of my time, but each played important roles which pushed the plot forward or gave insight to an aspect of Gabby’s character of the total story. 🙂 To be honest, if you quizzed me, I wouldn’t remember a single name. That doesn’t say a lot though. I’m horrible with names and even had to read the blurb to remember Gabby’s. Still, I love the cohesiveness the characters brought to the entire story. Each was rememberable (not so much the names for me but the personalities definitely). I’ve snapped a photograph of each of them in my mind’s eye.

Final thoughts: Gamers had a few loose ends which gave the first book a cliffhanger feel to it. You all know how much I hate cliffhangers. Yet at the same time, I was satisfied with the ending, especially knowing the next two books are already available.

My score? 4.5 – 5 out of 5 stars. HIGHLY recommended for RPG-ers. Until next time, I leave you with our infamous friend Leeroy.

Anyone else in the mood for chicken?