Tuesday 5 July 2011

Book Reviews

The Restoration Game
Ken Macleod
Little, Brown Book Group/Orbit Books
Available Now (Paperback & Hardback)
Review by Rob Wade

There is no such place as Krassnia. Lucy Stone should know - she was born there. In that tiny, troubled region of the former Soviet Union, revolution is brewing. Its organisers need a safe place to meet, and where better than the virtual spaces of an online game? Lucy, who works for a start-up games company in Edinburgh, has a project that almost seems made for the job: its original inspiration came from an epic tale, based on Krassnian folklore, concocted by Lucy's mother who studied there in the 1980s. As Lucy digs up details about her birthplace to slot into the game, she finds her interest in the open secrets of her family's past - and the darker secrets of Krassnia's - has not gone unnoticed. When a Russian - Georgian border war breaks out, Lucy has to move fast - and return to Krassnia herself, to the heart of the mountain that holds Krassnia's darkest and oldest secret. But nothing Lucy has discovered can possibly prepare her for the crucial role she is destined to play in The Restoration Game ...

As a concept, the plot of The Restoration Game is an excellent one, dealing with how multiplayer online games could aid people in setting up underground resistance movements. Sure, it deals with fictional countries (I mean, who’s ever heard of “Krassnia” or “Scotland”?), but the message is strong and is presented well in its structure. Characters are well-developed, coming across as very genuine characters who could conceivably exist. Particularly amusing to me was the portrayal of the video game company staff with whom Lucy works, who came across as very realistic indeed. The plot in general is really well done, with a lot of teasing serving to whet the appetite of the reader as they draw closer and closer all the time to the conclusion of the story, and what it’s ultimately all about.

The book has a couple of things letting it down, though. Despite some large portions of the story being diary entries which are totally plot-relevant, the narrative doesn’t feel as flowing during these sections, and the interweaving of diary entry and modern-day story elements are very unbalanced, making the story hard work during these periods. I wouldn’t mind so much, but the diary entries are a sizeable amount of the story as a whole, and break up the present-day narrative pretty heavily, making it difficult to get back into the main story after reading through those diary entries at length.

Overall, though, the story is well-written, and is definitely worth a read if you’re into gaming, political thrillers and the like.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence: None. Mostly all political subterfuge and dialogue about threats of violence.
Sex/Nudity: Again, it’s all about talking about stuff. Sure, the characters obviously *have* sex, but none is described.
Swearing: A fair bit, but nothing jarring, it’s handled well.
Summary: A good book, but hard work at times. 7/10


Brace yourself for a hypnotic, high octane ride through the twisted minds of The Butcher Brothers, as they join forces with the producers of Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to create a new kind of horror - the violent kind.

Life is carefree for members of the Crew, a tough North Cal biker gang, who like nothing more than to drink, gamble and fight at their remote hangout. But when hell comes a-calling in the guise of a deviant gang, missing for 50 years, the Crew are unprepared for the unholy terror that lies ahead. The rules of life and death become meaningless as they fight to survive the ensuing madness that threatens to shatter their minds and consume their souls.

Thanks to our friends at Metrodome, we've got three copies of The Violent Kind to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Monday 11th July, making sure to put "The Violent Kind" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "The Violent Kind" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

The Violent Kind is available from Monday 25th July, courtesy of Metrodome.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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