Derek Edgington, Game Over, 2016
Derek Edgington’s virtual-reality action/adventure novel introduces us to Ekko Everlasting, a man forcibly brought from Earth to a far-away universe called Elisium, with the purpose of winning the do-or-die game, No-Life. Shortly after arriving in Elisium, Ekko joines forces with the Resistance, a group who oppose the Sibyl System, the system which controls everything on Elisium.
One interesting aspect to Edgington’s novel is his decision to give the reader choices in what path Ekko should take. At various points during fights that Ekko is in, we are presented with Dead Ends, which has three options on what Ekko should do in this scenario; usually, two options lead the story forwards, and one will lead to a Game Over page, before offering you the chance to continue on with the story (I, myself, chose the wrong answer multiple times). While the story goes forward in the same linear path regardless of your decision, it is still an intriguing option to allow you to momentarily choose which option to take in the context of the scene.
However, Game Over is not without faults. We are introduced to Ekko in the first chapter, before he is immediately involved in a fight, afterwards he joins the Resistance and then fights in the game No-Life. All of this happening very early on and very quickly negates any chance for serious character or world development. We are only shown what is necessary of Elisium, whereas being shown around the universe more would have benefitted, and Ekko is simply portrayed as a fighter, and nothing more. This meant that during his three rounds of fighting in No-Life I never worried about his chances, nor was I given a reason to care should he have died. This changed somewhat after No-Life as Ekko prepared for the next competition, The Test, where Ekko meets a group and interacted with them. This helps develop some character within him, and while that is good I just feel it arrived a little too late in the story.
While reading through the early parts of No-Life it did strike me how similar it was presented to the Hunger Games, however unintentional it may have been. Each competition having fight-to-the-death battles, each having financial sponsors, Ekko being there not of his free will and contest announcers for the watching public. While The Test was completely different, the first game of No-Life is easily comparable to it.
Edgington’s writing style also comes with its high points and low. The description is very effective and the writing allows the story to flow easily from one scene to the next; however a tendency to use the word ‘said’ did get slightly repetitive after a while. Nearly every time someone spoke Edgington uses the word ‘said’, instead of often changing it up with other words (whispered, shouted, responded, etc.). And there was a common occurrence of using commonly-used similes (‘squashed like a pan cake’) and very basic phrases (‘If there was such a thing as a beauty contest, he would’ve been held up as a shining example of superstardom and supermodel glamour.’) These do not take anything away from the story, but seeing such simple phrases occasionally used, and the repeated decision to use ‘said’, affected my enjoyment of his writing style somewhat.
All that being said, Game Over was an enjoyable novel with an interesting theme. Combining a virtual reality world and a computer game-like plot into the world of literature is a uniquely different combination, and adding the options to choose Ekko’s actions allowed you to interact with the text. For fans of the genre it is well-worth a read.
*Buy it on Amazon here*
Other Works by Derek Edgington:
Immortal: Curse of the Deathless
Pandemonium: Devourer of Souls
Fist of Light series:
- The Seven