Grid Seekers #1
Published by Self-Published on May 3, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
The author/publisher provided a free copy of the book for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a review copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore do not affect the opinion or content of the review.
In a dystopian future, WorldNet, a semi-autonomous evolved form of the Internet, controls daily life. WorldNet allows people to plug themselves in, transporting their minds and sensory organs into what citizens call the grid while their physical bodies stay put. Inside WorldNet they can shop, bank, dine, travel, and do everything they can do in the real world, and although WorldNet itself is free, there’s a cost for doing business.
Any citizen aged sixteen to sixty who accesses WorldNet during the year is entered into a lottery. Twenty-four people, four from each of six megacities, are randomly chosen to compete in an annual televised competition in which they’re plugged in and forced to search for one of two hidden talismans. If they fail to find one of the talismans, or if they die in the process, they’re sentenced to three years of hard labor. But if they win, they’re granted one wish, any wish, that could completely change their lives—or the world.
Alexia Meyers, a seventeen-year-old from New York City, hardly has any chance of being drawn in the lottery—after all, she lives in a megacity of millions. When Alexia is chosen, though, her entire world crashes and she realizes that her life is going to change in the worst of ways. She’s quickly taken to train for the competition, where she learns self-defense, survival, and strategic tactics for surviving—and winning—the competition. Alexia and her partner, Liam, must learn to work together to outwit their competitors and find the talismans, but they quickly learn it won’t be easy—especially when another team decides to take Alexia and Liam down.
(This is the first book in a planned trilogy.)
Grid Seekers. Fantastic idea. Interesting world. Seemingly dull characters. Snooze-worthy writing.
When you first start Grid Seekers, the world and idea sounds quite similar to The Hunger Games – a competition every year with twenty-four competitors randomly drawn from a certain age range where winning might as well be everything and losing is quite literally losing everything, because losing gets you sent to a labor camp for three years.
A book with a similar recipe to another book isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I find that I enjoyed the world Byrne builds here. It’s interesting and I loved every aspect of the competition and how it works – the cards with powers, the competition being in a digital arena. But….
The writing is boring. I wanted to sleep more than I wanted to read the book – it’s that snooze-worthy. Literally 50% of the book is focused on training itself – after the beginning 10-20% that introduces us to the world before the competitors are chosen. That’s not exactly bothersome aside from the fact there isn’t actually enough room for the competition.
Obviously the ending is clear, but here’s the math:
Roughly 20% of the book is spent opening the book – introducing the characters and the world, and choosing the competitors. That also includes the trip over to the training center and introductions to the trainers and whatnot. Another 50% – half the book! – is focused on training. The training Byrne builds here consists of five parts – approximately 10% or more for each part of training. The rest – 30% of the book – is focused on the competition, and the whole winning shebang, which I didn’t bother reaching the winning shebang.
Here’s the kicker. The whole winning shebang will probably need about 5%, maybe 10% of the book, which sadly leaves 20% of the book to actually be focused on the competition, and where the most action is going to happen.
Here’s another kicker: my math there is pretty accurate. According to my tablet, the competition starts at 70%. My computer says 69%, but that might as well be 70%.
But back to the writing. It’s boring. The dialogue sounds robotic and uninterested. I felt like I was a children’s book all over again, with a moral and mentors who pretty much just praise the main character with “Good girl, good girl. Keep up the pace and I’ll give you a yummy little treat” and a pat on the head.
“I just wanted you all to know, so that you didn’t get ambushed or whatever. I know it probably isn’t the best move strategically for myself and Liam, but it’s the right thing to do,” I said.
“And we commend you for telling us. We definitely aren’t here to fight, and even though you’re apprehensive, I’m willing to bet you’ll be rewarded for your actions someday. It’s always best to do the right thing in life, even if it’s the hardest thing,” the front man said.
The threats are written in a way that is absolutely amateur. It’s literally this:
Predator: Yo, got a problem?
Prey: Yeah! We aren’t gonna let you bully others!
Predator: Uh huh. You gonna apologize for telling them or else.
Prey: HELL TO THE NO. Go back to your life and stop causing trouble.
Predator: Who do you think you are? Sweetie, don’t make it any bigger – this has nothing to do with you, so mind your beeswax.
Prey: Oh, it totally has everything to do with me.
*staring contest, scuffle ensues, grudges made*
I would totally draw a cheesy comic, but I really don’t want to show the world my drawing skills of people. I draw inanimate things better. But… my face.
It’s also full of “You’re making a big mistake” and “You won’t win” – it’s really a lot degrading among the competitors throughout that fits quite well in a playground.
By the time the third or fourth phase of training rolled around, I started having a devil-and-angel-on-the-shoulder moment just to decide if the book was worth finishing or not worth it at all. I eventually decided to make my decision when the competition started to see if the book won’t be as much of a snooze fest, but I was sorrily disappointed. Within the first two days of the competition, all I’ve seen were find a safe place, run, threats (I could have sworn I saw a variation of “You’re making a big mistake” three times in a row), and half of a talisman being found.
Grid Seekers is really just a book full of characters threatening each other (even The Hunger Games didn’t have threats), morals, and stalling. It had a really interesting idea, but the book is just executed poorly to the point where I’m ready to fall asleep.