Armchair Safari is more than a computer game to Oklahoman college student Megan Evans. It’s her livelihood. Her in-game exploits pay for her tuition, rent, and food. She usually plays solo—her thief character skilled at slipping in and out of defenses—but when a group approaches her about a chance to find treasure beyond imagining, it’s an offer she can’t refuse. Megan the Thief joins with warriors Boris and Kalam, Sameer the wizard, Father Corman—a kindly cleric, and the mysterious ranger Haas to travel uncharted territory in search of the mother lode.
Armchair Safari is Derek Callahan’s livelihood, too, but he’s not a gamer. A former marine turned businessman, he’s starting a new job as Netertainment’s Chief Financial Officer. He just needs to make the numbers work, so when two million dollars mysteriously disappears from the company coffers, he’s understandably stressed. Add in a punk hacker with ties to the Russian mafia, and suddenly virtual reality becomes a bit too real.
This is a long, but action-packed adventure with a full cast of characters. I was a little annoyed with reading it on my Kindle because I kept wanting to flip back and forth to keep track of all the characters (since there are at least three major groups of them). I did enjoy seeing multiple aspects of many characters, watching the interplay between personal, professional, and role-played personalities. The exploration of behaviors, motives, duty and honor was especially interesting.
In the tradition of other suspenseful techno-dramas (the story is pretty visual, so I’m picturing movies here, specifically Sandra Bullock in The Net, even though it will date me), there’s a lot of melodrama here. There is also the danger of either being too technical or not technical enough. It’s a pretty fine line, but Isaacs does a good job with it. I particularly appreciate having most technical explanations being delivered to Derek, the nontechnical new guy. It’s an effective device—giving necessary information without talking down to the reader. Most of the time, it works.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read—suspenseful and forward moving, occasionally a bit clichéd, but nothing that would take me out of the story world. And it wouldn’t take much to convince me to return.
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller