Review by: Morgan HobbesIn Imprisoned Online (Gaming the System), written by P.A. Wikoff, the future of humankind looks rather bleak. In Wikoff's future, humans have nerfed the planet to the point where it's not safe to go outside without a breathing unit and a permit. They stay indoors, playing the next big computer game that comes along.
A society that's a little reminiscent of Idiocracy, but sort of a cross where intelligent systems and people must still exist but are completely overrun by poorly programmed AIs that seem to dominate everyone. Almost like they've taken over the world by stealth but don't quite know what to do next.
Our hero, Seph, is an angsty teen who rejects the online world, and he can't stand any of it. He's certainly not interested in playing online games. The irony, of course, is that Seph is sentenced to online prison, an MMORPG where he needs to earn enough gold to repay his debt.
It takes a good chunk of the book to get that far. Around three and a half hours just to get through the "real world" stuff and into character creation. None of this is rushed, as Seph works through his options.
The "virtual" part of the book is an excellent divergence from the norm. Rather than just diving in gung-ho with loads of cool weapons and such, Seph has to earn everything the hard way.
The pacing of this book... I'd describe it as tentative. It had me trying to will Seph along to make better decisions, but as I said, this wasn't following the kind of normal progression you might expect. Dying and starting over (a lot) continually puts Seph back behind the eightball.
The narration was a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, Crystal Wikoff did a decent job for many of the characters... BUT, I continually forgot the Seph, the main character, was a guy. The way the bulk of the book is written, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference either way, apart from the occasional parts where you get reminded Seph is indeed male. If it wasn't for those bits, the story works perfectly well for male or female.
A few minor editing issues, including a repeated line that tripped me out of the flow, but otherwise generally okay. Lacking some overall depth, it could have benefited from more bass to give it more richness.
Frustrating at times, but a good story that doesn't follow some of the more obvious well-worn paths. The story ends a little abruptly for my liking, but I definitely will keep going with the series.