Any time I am asked (or when I do the asking) to review a book, I somehow feel that I need to spend more time on my write-up than I do when I review a book for fun. That is the case with my latest review. I finished reading Seleste deLaney’s GAMING FOR KEEPS a couple of days ago, and instead of jumping into the review with the enthusiasm fresh from reading the book, I decided to sleep on it.
The next day, my enthusiasm hadn’t changed. I figured maybe I still needed more perspective, and gave it another day. Still no change. What that tells me is that this book really is that much fun.
So, the basic premise is that a couple of people who have played an MMORPG together but have never met in person go to a convention hoping to meet each other, and end up hitting it off in person as well as they do online. The conflict? He is a real-life spy, and there’s a psycho planning to kill a bunch of people at this convention. He has to figure out how to stop the bad guy, save the girl, and still keep his secret. Unfortunately, she has bad experiences with online dating, and is very leery of secrets.
I went into this hoping it would be as fun as it actually was. I was expecting a lot of geeky references, and I got them. (I’m sure there were several that I didn’t catch, too, since I haven’t played an MMORPG before. I do play RPGs on the computer, but I play solo instead of online.)
The one thing I was expecting that I didn’t get was more of a fantasy/paranormal element. Both the good guys and the bad guys are 100% human. No vampires, no demons, no elves – except of the role-playing kind. Normally, I prefer paranormal fiction. Straight fiction without that fantasy element doesn’t interest me as much. However, between the RPG and the spy stuff, this was pretty close to fantasy without actually adding anything paranormal.
The lack of fantasy creatures didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book at all – if anything, it made me enjoy it more, because it was all fresh. There were no hidden magic powers waiting to save the day. No evil spells or curses the bad guy wielded which made you wonder how the normal-seeming good guy had any chance at all. It all made sense in the world we already know, so I wasn’t pulled out of the story to decipher the mechanics of a plot device.
This is already a pretty long review, so I’m going to add a few bullet points of things I particularly enjoyed:
• The sex-in-the-shower scene. Without going into details, I can just say that I’ve had experiences very similar to this one. It made me laugh, and it made me believe. Nicely done.
• I loved the description of the costumes. There weren’t many of them, as the costumes weren’t part of the story apart from when they were on the main characters, but they were fun to read.
• In-game descriptions. Awesome stuff. You can tell Seleste has played before. Even though I don’t play MMOs, there are enough offline RPG similarities that it resonated with my experiences.
• Geek references. I’m only just getting into Firefly (I know, bad geek girl) because I lacked TV service when it aired, but I loved the quotes they threw around. Same with LOTR.
If you think this is a book you might enjoy – and if you read my blog, chances are decent that you enjoy geeky stuff – then keep an eye out for a contest. When this is released next month, I plan to host a contest to give away a copy of the ebook.
(For full disclosure, I received a review copy of this ebook from the publisher. But I only begged to be sent a review copy because the book was not yet available for purchase. I will be giving away a copy to pay it forward, since I would have purchased this ebook for myself if I was not given a copy.)