**UPDATED: Comments are now CLOSED!**
You guys! Finally! I’ve been saying FOR MONTHS that it’s time for a review of Erika’s book, but she and I had some trickery up our sleeves that I think will be even more fun for you than reading my particular brand of book babble.
In case you’re not familiar with Erika, she’s been blogging for years over at Parsing Nonsense. I started reading her while she was pregnant with her son Aidan, and was immediately sucked in both by the geek-girl mentality we share and by her great writing style. Fortunately for all of us, she decided to take the leap and start writing full-type, and her first novel was released on June 18th of this year. (Because I’m a book snob, I waited until SEPTEMBER to get a printed copy, and I’m not going to lie- it’s SO cool.) Around that time, she emailed me and asked if I’d like to do a review and GIVEAWAY of the book. Would I EVER?!
Of course, yanno, September was right before some stuff happened in October and I basically disappeared right off the face of the earth. In addition to being smart and lovely, Erika is also very patient. Which is awesome for both you, and I. Mostly you though. 😉
Plot Summary (from Amazon): Find out what happens when this gamer decides to stop playing nice. Professional gamer Sean Boxer is headed to South Korea to play the biggest Starcraft 2 tournament in the world. His arch-rival, Norman MacArthur, wants to make sure Sean never makes it to the first round. Norman uses his job at the NSA to set Sean up as the subject of a government investigation, leaving Sean buried under metaphorical tons of bureaucratic red tape and stuck in the States until the investigation is over, which could take years. And result in prison time. When Sean finds out Norman is behind his newfound legal troubles, he has a big decision to make: Stay home or fight back.
TxtingMrDarcy Notes: I was excited to read PWNED for a while, but I knew that I had to carefully time it in my order of “to read” books. It came with me on the honeymoon, where I got bogged down in that draggy piece of poo whose title rhymes with “The Kelp.” I “cleansed my mental palate”, so to speak, with “The Night Circus,” at which time I was immediately ready for something light and fun to help me gradually breakaway from the dreamy world of the Circus.
Enter PWNED. A Thriller, about an author/gamer. Immediately my nerd-radar starts beeping with interest. (Honestly, I recommended it to my wedding photographer, as we’d discussed his love of Starcraft at one of our photo sessions.)
*DISCLAIMER: You do NOT have to be intimately acquainted with Starcraft 2 to enjoy this book. Erika explains some of the game terminology and strategies, and you gradually can visualize what’s happening just by osmosis.*
The characters are well-written and likeable, and tend to dispel the typical stereotype of the “gamer.” None of them exist on Funyuns and Mountain Dew, nor do they live in their Mom’s basements: Each has a job as a functioning part of society, and games in their free time. It’s Norman’s job that first gives him the idea of sabotaging his arch-rival, Sean, and keeping him from the biggest Starcraft 2 tournament in the world. Norman barely beat him the year before, and has noticed that Sean’s technique has greatly improved in the last year.
Sean is going about his business, dealing with typical family drama and working on his latest novel when suddenly the FBI bursts into his apartment and lets him know that he’s being investigated for “suspicious browsing activity.” (Note to self: … ha, just kidding.) They confiscate his laptop, leaving him without a way to work or practice for the upcoming GSL tournament. He’s also been told not to leave the country until he’s cleared by the NSA, so his chances to compete are looking pretty bleak… until his Starcraft teammates come to the rescue with a scheme that just might work, to help Sean not only clear his name but also compete.
This book wasn’t what I expected in ANY sense of the word. I was a little afraid to be bogged down in gaming jargon- didn’t happen. Most of my frame of reference for thrillers exists around Dan Brown novels, and there wasn’t a bald monk or series of cryptic clues hidden in famous artworks to be seen. There MAY OR MAY NOT even be a little bit of romance hidden in there… Most of all, this book is FUN. It’s the perfect read for a day at the beach or a rainy day curled up on the couch, when you want to escape for a little while and hang out with characters that you feel you’d be friends with in real life. The enjoyment that Erika Mitchell got out of writing this story is evident in every page, from some sly and not-so-sly pop culture references to the casual banter between her characters. I personally cannot WAIT for her next novel to be released!
To help you get as excited about this book as I am, Erika has offered to do a little “mini tour” here on my blog, including a giveaway of a copy of PWNED. Stop back the next two days to read an interview with Erika, including details on her NEXT book. My blog has been PWNED for the week!!
You have a chance to win a copy of your own:
PWNED gets really exciting when Sean decides travel to GSL despite being on the FBI watch list. How would YOU flee the country if the government was after you? Leave your super-secret scheme in the comments of this post, and I’ll post a winner in ONE WEEK. (Comments will close Monday night!)
For a second bonus entry, stop by and “like” Erika’s author page on Facebook, for updates on her latest writing endeavors. Leave a comment and let me know that you did.
Good Luck, and don’t forget to stop back tomorrow!