Pageturner Press and Media (2018)
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (01/2022)
Quick! What was the first video game? Well, even though there were things “popping” up before, it was actually “Space Invaders” that became the first huge commercial success and had consumers (like me) literally stopping their lives in order to shoot those aliens from the sky. (No, don’t sigh. I know some of you “Tetris” fanatics are reading this, too, and I know you’re addicted.)
When it comes to virtual reality, an art which people are still trying to figure out, that particular fan favorite started to have a huge effect on the gaming community in 2001. I am also of the age where I remember the very first time the “cyberpunk” movement in American science fiction books came to pass; it was in the heyday of the 1980s when, out of the blue, came authors like Bruce Sterling and William Gibson; the latter publishing the first sci-fi/cyberpunk novel in 1984.
It took me about a decade, and a few hit movies, to not only understand the cyberpunk genre, but also to find it appealing. But it came to pass that these dystopian, futuristic settings—and all the information about odd technology, like artificial intelligence shoved within the pages—began to spark my imagination and made me want to visit these non-existent locales ASAP. So what does all this information have to do with this review? Well… I’m about to tell you.
When I began this adventure, I walked through the darkness in a place called the Echelons. There, I witnessed a crime—an insider tip about the stock market that’s top secret was being handed out. This data causes a hacker (certainly we all know that term by now), named Jester, to dive into a game of high intelligence and out-of-this-world tech. As the author moves forward to piece together a plot that involves everything from politics to the stock market to illegal cover-ups happening at the highest levels, another hacker—a teen by the name of Rom—is brought in by Jester and given a mission to cause as much chaos as possible inside brokerage houses.
As a reader, you find these characters amazing. Created from a virtual environment, both the heroes and the villains feel like they’re dressed in neon lights; like you can reach out and touch them because the author has done such a great job with detail and bringing a cyber world into reality.
The plot is extremely action-packed, but it is also quite familiar when you think about our stock market and the “crashes” of corporations (shout out to Enron here), and illegal secrets that have upended people who sat in the highest offices of business and government. These hackers – this cyber war – is terrifying to read, because it is so true in this day and age; yet, at the same time, it’s exciting and invigorating because Natsuya Uesugi shows from the very beginning that he knows these subjects like the back of his hand.
The emotions explored are raw and real, from the power of greed to the negative mental effects that occur when living in a world that keeps people away from one another because they can do “everything” with technology and see no need for actual human contact. This is most definitely an epic battle between rich and poor, and the author deserves high praise for not only this, but the other “Grydscaen” novels. It’s no wonder that this writer is also a professional Manga artist, seeing as that his words are a “masterpiece” all on their own. When you’re done with this, you will definitely want to head to his sites and buy even more of his material so you can escape into a memorable virtual world. (And, yes, it’s even more addictive than “Tetris.”) Enjoy!