Book Review : Epic by Conor Kostick
Generations ago, violence was banned on New Earth. Society is governed and conflicts are resolved in the arena of a fantasy computer game, Epic. Everyone plays. If you win, you have the chance to go to university, get more supplies for your community, and fulfill your dreams; if you lose, your life both in and out of the game is worth nothing.
When Erik, seeking revenge for the unjust treatment of his parents, dares to subvert the rules of Epic, he and his friends find themselves up against with the ultimate masters of the game: the Committee. If Erik and his friends win, they may have the key to destroying Epic’s tyranny over New Earth. But if they lose . . . (synopsis courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
Epic was published in 2004 which means this novel was not influenced by The Hunger Games, Matched, Maze Runner, Delerium, ect. This is an important factor to note because the current dystopian novels often center around the destruction of the world as a backdrop for a romance, and usually a love triangle. Epic is NOT a love triangle! Hooray! That right there is the first recommendation for this novel.
Kostick was intrigued with how the virtual world of gaming is entering the real world. He has created New Earth where the government is in control through the virtual world, Epic. The setting requires that each character has two names and 2 personas which could be confusing, however, the author has limited the characters and it was fine. The virtual world of Epic is filled with the standard characters of elves, warriors, mages, witches, and other mythical beings. It is also filled with potions, spells, invisibility and other props. I am not interested in the gaming world, but Epic offered enough information for me to understand the virtual world without overwhelming me in the lore of a fantasy game. The main virtual characters do progress very quickly without much training, but again I was grateful not to have to slog through a long involved session of preparation. I also liked the little twist of Epic becoming sentient. (I realize this is not a completely new idea, but in this context I felt like it added a layer of intrigue to the virtual beings motivations.)
It is also typical of fantasy novels to include a foreign language. The phrase finem facere mundo is on the front cover and is central to the climax of the novel. The vampyre explains this phrase’s translation is ‘to make an end to the world’. Does a virtual creature has the instinct for self preservation?
I liked the characters, but I wasn’t so vested in them that the story became the people. Erik is interesting because he chooses to make his virtual self, Cindella, a girl and “wastes” all of his initial choices for beauty. Playing a MMORPG, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, would dictate that each person would want a powerful persona with talents and skills to help them progress in the game. By choosing a characteristic that others would have considered frivolous the author could be saying that we may overlook a real person because we don’t consider their talents to be valuable. He never says this outright though it is implied through Erik’s choices.
I was surprised that I enjoyed this novel and happily recommend it. (Epic might be too big to expect from the novel, it could be renamed Intrigued.)
– the Mother