United By Pop received a free copy of Extropia: Mind Game in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.
Title: Extropia: Mind Game
Author: Robin Bootle
Overall rating: 4/5
Great for: Fans of James Dashner, Suzanne Collins, and Ernest Cline
Themes: Young adult, science fiction, dystopian, virtual reality, role playing video game
Review: A very-near future of our world is envisioned in this explosion of a science fiction novel!
It’s the year 2031 and virtual reality is about to be taken to the next level. Edward’s father and brother, James, are the driving duo behind this new invention that allows the player to experience total mind and body immersion into their newly created virtual terrain: Extropia.
The money behind this world-altering creation comes from ruthless tycoon Vandermeer and his wish for a quick return to his expenditure causes the new technology to be rushed in its conception and testing. His rash decisions lead to a break in the mechanics of this advanced and not yet fully understood technology that leaves Edward without a family. His father and brother’s bodies are entombed in the sensory gel that provides them with the oxygen and nutrients to survive but their minds are completely fixed in Extropia. With no way to free themselves and return to their vegetative bodies, it is up to Edward to enter the perilous virtual terrain he so disdains, in search of a way to save his family. But it seems that some of his brother and father’s creations have ideas of their own.
I didn’t immediately click with the third person narration but a few, tense pages in and this initial reservation was forgotten. As immediately immersive as the virtual reality this focuses on, this book drew me into the action with a beating heart and dry mouth before I even knew anything about the characters I was seriously emoting for.
Edward initially came off as a little pensive and petulant. It was wonderful to see this central character progress so quickly, and arc into becoming the strong individual the book closes with. This played out alongside the virtual Edward levelling up as new in-game skills were acquired and the interplay between the two was cleverly deployed.
The virtual characters were also created with as much supremacy as the human ones. Extropia’s creations were nothing more than lines of programming code, but their history, their surroundings and their suffering was real to them. Bootle allowed it to also become real for the reader. I forgot that every experience inside this technology was a conjured one, and I was carried away by this illusion due to the author’s skill at the creation of his dual worlds.
The family dynamic added an element of poignancy to a very action-orientated plot and the instances of brief reprieve from the surrounding momentum allowed the reader to experience the full breadth of emotions, whilst reading this.
The vast and fascinating terrain allowed the reader extensive exploration and the virtual nature of it allowed the author to exceed every blockade to his imagination that could occur in a real-world setting. I look forward to journeying with this author, again, and seeing where else his imagination can take us.
— Robin Bootle (@RobinBootle) May 5, 2017