Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
First of all, right here at the top, I have to say something. In reviews and promotional materials for this novel, you will inevitably see many comparisons to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I have to say I don’t think this is entirely accurate. While both books do deal with immersive virtual reality and the inherent dangers within, Ready Player One is truly magnificent and on a completely different level from other similar sci-fi novels.

Otherworld goes in a slightly different direction so for me, it’s actually more similar to the Hunger Games...with a slight nod to The Matrix. OK, with that being written, let’s get to it.

Otherworld centers on a teen boy named Simon who only wants to escape from his rich, uninterested parents and be with his unrequited love, Kat. Probably sounds familiar. Except here, he only finds time to be with her in Otherworld; a computerized, life-simulating virtual reality where you can be anyone and live however you want to live. Unfortunately, Simon’s dad discovers and destroys his VR gear and soon after, Kat falls into dire trouble. What follows is Simon’s attempt to do anything and everything necessary to re-connect with Kat, but he can only do that in Otherworld. As he desperately chases her trail in virtual reality and in the real world, Simon uncovers the true, malicious reasons for the existence of Otherworld. And he finds out that Otherworld has taken on a life of its own and moved well beyond the controlled scope of what the creators intended. So his quest becomes not just about finding Kat because he’s in love with her, but about reaching her in time to save her life...and the lives of hundreds of other innocent people.

I say it’s similar to Hunger Games because Simon is pursuing Kat across Otherworld which requires him to defeat/survive several different realms/domains, each with a newer more dangerous boss character. The Matrix-esque part comes in because Simon jumps in and out from the real world to virtual world as he unravels the overlapping mysteries in each realm.

Overall it’s an entertaining, fast-paced, quick reading novel with many unique, creative elements...such as the powerful “Elementals” who rule the VR domains and the eerie “Children” who skulk about the environments. Both of whom have mysteriously and mistakenly developed through unforeseen circumstances in the Otherworld virtual reality. The story does have some rocky holes in it and a few places where you just need to “pull down your VR visor”, so to speak, and keep pressing on without worrying too much about the shaky tech, science, and sudden expert fighting prowess of the book’s characters. But once you remember you’re reading a YA sci-fi story dealing with a menacing, futuristic computer simulation, suspension of disbelief comes pretty easy.

I recommend this one to boys or girls of High School reading age and up who like tech-type novels and who enjoyed Hunger Games and/or The Matrix. Some fighting, light kissing, and danger, but no overt violence or sex scenes. The ending sets up a longer series and I think I will be in line to find out what’s next for Simon and his friends.

Most importantly--if you or someone you know picks this book up and likes it, make sure to read or recommend Ready Player One too because THAT book will knock the virtual reality glasses right off any reader’s face and blow their mind!

Happy Reading!

(Disclaimer--I received an advance reader copy of this book by replying to a promotional email from the publisher. I have provided an open and honest review.)

Click here to check out my Ready Player One review!