Friday, August 5, 2016

REVIEW: Stuck in the Game by Christopher Keene

by Christopher Keene
Science Fiction/Fantasy
Future House Publishing
3/5 stars

I really like the basis of Stuck in the Game. I've always thought stories about people playing immersive video games is clever, because it's a story of escapism told through the greatest form of escapism there currently exists -BOOKS.

It's like an enigma wrapped in a paradox!

Keene has good detail, both for the world within the fantasy-based video game Noah is trapped in and for how he describes Noah being trapped in it. I really felt a part of the game, even decidedly non-gamer that I am. Some moments, I was actually more intrigued by the lore of the video game's story than the actual reigning plot.

For the non-gamers like me, most of the jargon is explained, but there are some references that I didn't understand. With a passing knowledge of video games (and Google), they weren't too hard to figure out, but they still gave me a little reality jolt.

The characters were a little under-cooked for my taste. There were some fun personalities -gung-ho gamer chick Siena_the_Blade and serious gamer Datalent being favorites- but I prefer a little more meat on my characters' bones. This was definitely a plot-driven piece of fiction and -even despite its slow start- it's entertaining, with some really clever and fun tweaks on the video game idea.

Stuck in the Game also has a successful way of pulling both reality and the fantasy pseudo-reality prominently into the plot, instead of focusing on one over the other. The story starts out with pretty high stakes: Noah is seriously injured in a car accident and the fully-immersive 'Dream Engine' video game is the only way to keep his mind from slipping into a coma, while the fate of his girlfriend remains uncertain. However, this tension was pushed into the background in favor of playing of the video game, making for a slow build to the action of the tale. This is one reason the characters were a little on the bland side; Noah had a way of playing the game to push his bleak situation out of his mind a little too well. I didn't feel much emotional connection to him or from him to really get invested in the personal stakes of the story. As my regular readers are perfectly aware, though, I'm what one would kindly call 'obsessed' with character depth.

That being said, what I thought was a pretty predictable story did wind up taking a few twists and turns, with a nice thriller bite to it, so I'm mostly satisfied with how it turned out and I enjoyed the ending moment.

A fun escapist fantasy and a good, quick read. While Stuck in the Game could be a fun choice for sci-fi/fantasy readers, it would definitely be a good jaunt for all the gamers out there. Especially *coughcough* those gamers that might need a little convincing that books can be just as good -if not better- than video games.

I received a copy of Stuck in the Game from Future Publishing House in return for an honest review. Thanks, guys!

Launch Goodies!
Grab your copy! Stuck in the Game will be available for $2.99 August 4-11 (discounted from the regular price of $4.99)

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card over on Stuck in the Game's launch post!

Goodreads Giveaway! Future House will be giving away some physical copies on their Goodreads giveaway starting on August 9th.

Get the word out -Vote up Stuck in the Game on some Goodreads lists

If you had to be trapped inside a video game, which would you choose?
Personally, I'm a Star Wars: Old Republic or Legend of Zelda kinda girl.


  1. Good review. I would love to hear what you think of the sequel.

    1. If I read the sequel, I will definitely post a review!