"My name is Rick Dial," said Rick, and he drew Mariel's blade. "And I'm here to destroy this place."
The demon's face contorted with anger, yet he managed to nod with a measure of respect. [...] "I am Reza. And I'm going to kill you." (284)
Two stories weave through the novel: that of Rick exploring the Realm and that of the Traveler, a man on the run as he assists the government with the MindWar project. This second branch of the narrative is never fully realized, though, and his role in the project is unclear. Rick's story was interesting enough to follow, especially the dynamics with his younger brother, but the story of the Traveler was too vague and seemed to be more of an unnecessary plot addition.
The book is hokey at best, where a huge suspension of disbelief is required with every page. Becoming the best in the world at three different video games in only four months? Unlikely. The government asking for your help by drugging you and putting you in the back of a van? Exciting, but no.
Another gimmicky-tacky route this novel took was assigning each chapter a title that belongs to a video game: Call of Duty, Portal, Portal Two, Hitman. The thing that put me over the edge was a chapter called "Words with Friends." I actually cringed. However, one thing I should have been thankful for was the chapter breaks, since in the last section of the novel they're forgone completely. There's about 80 pages that are only broken up by a symbol serving as an asterisk. There's 29 chapters in the first 3/4 of the book, and one for the last quarter.
The intended audience for this book is probably pre-teen boys, so perhaps these can be excused. But for an adult reader, this book left a lot to be desired. The plot was barely enough to keep my interest and all of the minor annoyances kept adding up.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from BookLook for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.