Erebos by Ursula Poznanski.

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Paperback, 418 pages

Translated by Judith Pattinson

Published March, 2012 by Allen & Unwin

IBSN: 9781742379531

A heap of kids at Nick’s school have started acting very strange. They are exhausted, often skip class or extracurricular activities and act secretive and vaguely paranoid. No one will explain what’s going on. Nick is in the dark until a school mate gives him a DVD on the proviso that he keeps it absolutely secret. On the DVD is a computer game called Erebos.

Immediately, Nick is hooked on the realistic fantasy game. He eagerly works at moving his avatar higher up the ranks by slaying mythical creatures within the game and running errands for the Messenger outside of the game. Once he has been given instructions to complete in the real world, the game will not open for him until they are completed. Nick doesn’t understand the point of the strange things that the game asks him to do, but they seem innocent enough. That is, until all of a sudden, they don’t.

I am rubbish at playing video games. I used to play around with GTA, stealing cars, annoying the Triads and mowing down pedestrians for their money, but I could never complete any of the harder missions – that’s about the limit of my gaming abilities. Still, I can enjoy watching other people play video games. And gamer type books – like Ready Player One or Epic – really seem to appeal to me. I haven’t read many, but I like what I have read (any suggestions of other books in the same vein would be appreciated!). Erebos puts plenty of focus on the gaming aspect – we probably spend as much time with Nick’s avatar as we do with him. So if you aren’t into long game scenes, maybe this isn’t for you. But for me, I was as addicted to reading this book as Nick is to Erebos – I loved it!

The main goal in Erebos is to advance to such a point that you can become one of the Inner Circle – a small group who will go on to fight the big boss when the time comes. But the higher up you get, the more menacing your real world tasks are.  And the deeper Nick gets into it, the more his morals get stuffed up. He will blindly do whatever is asked of him so that he can keep playing the game.

The Messenger – a foreboding, sinister, seemingly omnipresent chap – also asks a lot of questions about people at Nick’s school. It’s so creepy, the way he knows everyone, and shocking that Nick is so quick to divulge information to him in order to advance in the game. Such is it’s addicting power.

I thought that Erebos was done so well. I loved the inclining intensity of the plot. Check it it for some chills and thrills.

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