In the near future, video games have grown more advanced—and deadly—in Dober’s debut sci-fi thriller.
Ultimatus, the most advanced video game of them all, is also the most dangerous, or so some people suspect. Its high-tech Ultisuits immerse the wearer in the game, making it a taxing physical challenge. Most players don’t really believe the rumors about the yearly tournament though. Even the most highly skilled players, who understand the game’s demands and are paid handsomely to play Ultimatus, don’t think that anyone actually dies when his or her avatar is killed. Others are starting to wonder, however. As this year’s game approaches and people begin to disappear, the law enforcement agencies of several countries plan to find the missing players along with the tournament’s location and creator. Known only as Fellini, the game’s maker has so far organized four Ultimatuses without anyone but the players knowing where they are held. CIA agents Simon Prince and Mark Sloan have been playing the game as one character in an attempt to be invited to the tournament, but only one of them can actually attend in person. Eventually, Mark finds himself alone at the Ultimatus’ final stage. He quickly falls in with top players Stellan Bostrøm and Gina Gazzoni, but although he likes Stellan as a friend and is attracted to Gina, Mark has to concentrate on one thing above all—surviving the match. Dober moves the action along at a whirlwind pace, immersing readers in the virtual world and keeping tension high as both Mark and Simon fight for Mark’s life. Although there are certainly plenty of killer video game stories in the sci-fi world, Dober manages to keep things interesting with an easy style that toggles seamlessly between game play and the real world, resulting in an action-stuffed, enjoyable read.
A tense thriller that will appeal to fans of video games and sinister villains.