My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have so many mixed feelings about this book. There were parts I liked and parts that just didn’t work for me. I really enjoyed all of the main and secondary characters. They had interesting personalities and the two main characters, Sam and Sadie, had really enjoyable personal growth stories through the narrative.
The thing I really didn’t enjoy was the narrative style the author chose. The book has a tendency to jump forward and back in time at certain points to further emphasis a point or story beat. This happens when providing context to a moment by jumping backwards to give it backstory, or letting us know that years later a certain comment would be said about a certain event, usually in interviews the characters where a part of. These back and forth were jarring and felt like they ruined the flow of the story a bit.
All My Thoughts
May contain spoilers.
This book was an interesting narrative on a variety of subjects; the gaming industry, sexism, male/female friendships, disability, and several others. It was so full of gaming references that I felt enhance the relatability for gamers, but might alienate non-gamers a bit. The author blends real-world game references as well as fictional games and companies created for the plot. This was both interesting and a bit awkward for me personally as a gamer. It is very easy to see the differences between what was made up and what was a real game based on how plausibly it they were described.
I loved the two main characters Sam and Sadie. Their friendship was fascinating to see progress both forward and back since childhood. Neither of them seemed to be entirely on the same page about anything. What their feelings were toward each other, what their goals were once they started working together, what the wanted out of life. This was very frustrating, but in a way I think was intended. They seemed good for each other’s motivation and toxic to each other at the same time and this was portrayed very well.
The secondary characters had a lot of personality as well. I was really found of Mark. He acted as a perfect centerpiece to the relationship Sam and Sadie had. He was such a likable character, especially when the other two were not.
I liked the plot of the story and how things progressed, but I actually didn’t care for the narrative style very much. The author spends a lot of time jumping back in time to give context to certain moments in the plot and often those are from the perspective of others that are not either Sadie or Sam, who are the main characters. This happens frequently and for me I felt like it brought the forward momentum of the plot to a stop. On the other side of that the author also jumped forward a few times. This would happen when the author felt we needed to know what would be said about a person or event in an interview that would happen beyond the current point we were in the plot. I also didn’t like this very much. I felt like both of these would pull me out of the plot too much and confuse things a bit.
The story was a fun “behind the scenes” look at game development that can be enjoyed without having any real knowledge of the process. It has interesting character development that gets a bit overshadowed by the narrative process.