It seemed like the stereotypical teen novel: set in the future, filled with high-school aged characters, and warning about the dangers of technology and video games. However, “Otherworld” by James Segel and Kirsten Miller is so much more than often used archetypes.
This novel follows the adventures of Simon Eaton, a teenage boy from a very wealthy New Jersey family, whose attempts to win back his friendship with Kat, a girl who lived in the woods by his family’s mansion, drag him into a series of twisted events he never expected. Simon thinks a Virtual Reality headset game called “Otherworld” will be all he and Kat need to come back together after their family lives (and personal decisions) estrange them.
However, when the VR headsets are destroyed, and Simon follows Kat to a party in an attempt to reconnect, the night ends with a building collapse and a death toll of four. When Kat is left in a coma after the accident, the Company (the same cooperation who made the VR headsets) steps in with a new experimental technology that will let her experience a life in a VR world while she is aware but unable to move. What seems like aid for a sick teen though, suddenly turns into a darker experience, and Simon must go on a journey-through worlds real and virtual-to save his best friend, and others being played by the Company in their convoluted technological realms.
This novel was well written, with complex characters and an action based plot that contained elements of mystery. The VR worlds were exceptionally developed, although Simon and Kat’s real lives were a bit unrealistic (but perhaps that was to show the contrast of his wealth to her -nearly always- life of poverty). Readers can connect with the characters throughout the harrowing plot, even though some of them are video game avatars.
The frequent use of video game lingo throughout the text can be confusing for non-gamers; however, the plot follows a path like a video game, only with much more real consequences. It was perfectly reminiscent of playing a video game, just in book form, and with a set ending. There is something for almost everyone in this high-quality, intriguing novel by Segel and Miller.
There is no doubt “Otherworld” is a novel both unique and interesting, and tells a story that is addicting it its plotting-just like the fictional game for which this book was named.
Sadie Testa-Secca // Co-News Editor
Photo by: Jordyn Dees // Co-Opinion Editor and Business Manager