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“Epic” by Conor Kostick. First published in Ireland 2004 by The O’Brien Press Ltd; first published in the USA 2007 by Viking.
Available in Kindle, paperback, and hardcover
“Epic” is a futuristic sci-fi teen novel by Conor Kostick. It has plenty of action and suspense combined with a very original plot, making it guaranteed to stand out. Accessible and of interest to both genders, this book will appeal especially to young adult boys with an interest in gaming.
Epic” is set far into the future when humans have colonized empty planets. The main character, Erik, lives in a world where violence is banned. Instead, court rulings and conflicts are decided by combat in the game of Epic, a MMORPG-style computer game. Those who get ahead in the game can gain supplies for their community or get better jobs; on the other hand if a combat is lost then the person has to start from scratch both in and out of the game. When his parents receive an unfair ruling by those in power, Erik and his friends dare to stand up to the authorities in the game arena. But it soon becomes evident their group is up against a set of power-hungry people with plenty of resources who will stop at nothing to prevent them in their quest. With the real-world stakes so high, will Erik and his friends be able to get the justice they are seeking, and if so at what cost?
OK, so tell me why this book is so great!
The ongoing suspense created by author Conor Kostick is masterfully paced and is interspersed with flashbacks from Erik’s point of view to help the reader understand how this futuristic world works (both in and out of the game). The flashbacks are brief enough that they do not interrupt the action. This book will appeal to even those who are least fond of reading. The fascination of a world where a fantasy computer game results in real-life consequences makes this book virtually impossible to put down by any teenager with an interest in computer games.
Any computer-savvy reader will immediately deduce from the detail in the world of Epic that author Conor Kostick truly has experience and not just research in online role-playing games. He was in fact a designer for the world’s first live fantasy role-playing game.The only criticism some readers may have is that Erik’s friends, especially the female ones, are not especially well-characterized. However, this is a minor criticism because to take the time to round out these characters more would result in a loss of pace and action.
Who is this book for?
“Epic” by Conor Kostick is an ideal choice for a teen boy or girl with an interest in computer games, science fiction or fantasy. Parents will enjoy the fact that it is morally ‘clean’ and deals primarily with Erik’s goal and his gradual realization of the system of governance around him. Without preaching or being moralistic, this book encourages young adults to get interested in the world outside of computer games through illustrating a world where computer games do have real-life stakes. Equally importantly, this science-fiction book shows how one person’s thoughts and actions can make a difference.
Overall, this book is a page-turner that teen readers will find almost impossible to put down.