Gamerunner follows Rick, a teenage boy living in the future where acid rain prevents people from going outdoors. Rick’s father, Daed, works for Crater—a virtual reality game developer that benefits from people spending the majority of their time, and money, in their games. Daed created the Maze as the ultimate game that can never be beaten. Rick not only tests the Maze for glitches, but also finds solace in the various activities and challenges within. And when a player comes close to completing the game, it falls to Rick to stop them.
Collins has created a detailed and believable setting where the greater population is scared of the outside world, Undone, and obsessed with the Maze. Sure the Maze isn’t real; but, it beats living in Undone.
Collins effectively uses the limited third-person point of view. At one stage, Rick eavesdrops on a conversation in another room. Although Rick can’t ‘see’ inside the room, sounds allow the reader to figure out what happens while Rick remains confused.
Whenever Rick is in the Maze, the narrator uses an awkward, repetitive sentence structure with very little punctuation. This is awkward to read at first, but after a few chapters it proves to be a great way to differentiate the Maze from the real world. Sharp, repetitive sentences remind the reader that although Rick would happily spend all his time in the Maze if he didn’t have to eat and sleep, he shouldn’t shun the real world for a game.
Corporate greed; dysfunctional father-son relationships; a dystopian future; and, humanity’s tendency to follow the status quo, rather than challenge it, are all explored in Gamerunner. While the setting, theme and plot are definitely dystopian, gamers like me will say, ‘Bring on the rain!’
The novel for this review was supplied by Bloomsbury