I am a science fiction lover, and I was really excited to see Erebos in our new arrivals. On the blood-red cover is a foreboding eye with the words “IT’S A GAME. IT WATCHES YOU.”
When Nick sees a mysterious brown package being passed around at school, he is intrigued. He asks other students about it, but everyone is being terribly secretive. Finally, a girl at school offers it to him, not saying anything except that it’s an “incredibly awesome” video game, he can’t talk about it to anyone, and that he must be alone when he plays. Nick goes home and excitedly installs the game. What he finds when he enters the world of Erebos is both sinister and thrilling. The game has an unsettling intelligence, and seems to take on a life of its own. As Nick and his classmates are pulled into the world of Erebos, strange things begin happening, and the game starts to leak into the real world.
Erebos has the effect of isolating its players, making them desperate–at all costs–for recognition from “The Messenger” (one of the scariest characters I’ve read in a while), who has the power to reward players for their actions, and asks the players to do strange and dangerous errands in their daily lives. As Nick plays, he begins to identify more with his character, Sarius, than he does with people in his life. He has friends in both camps: those who are playing and thus not talking about it (or to each other), and those who are doing all that they can to stop its distribution. Nick’s friend Jamie believes that the game is dangerous, which puts an incredible strain on their friendship. Erebos has gladiator-like fights to the death the determine who will be a part of the “Inner Circle,” and Nick suspects a few of his friends of being his bitter rivals in the game.
I was totally absorbed by the book from the moment I opened it. Like Nick, I always wanted to get back to Erebos to see what was going to happen next. This is a great sci-fi thriller, and will certainly be appreciated by gamers (although I must say, video games aren’t portrayed in the best light)! Ursula Poznanski blends an incredibly vivid portrait of the world of Erebos with Nick’s life in London. Although I wasn’t attached to any of the characters, who are essentially under the spell of the game, the suspense and well-wrought atmosphere made this book worth the read.