“Same as it ever was….”
These are the lyrics to the classic Talking Heads song that keeps repeating in the mind of the narrator, who has awakened underwater and surfaced in the world of Minecraft. Stumbling onto dry land, the narrator realizes that its body is not human but rather made head to toe of blocks. It has no memory of how it arrived in this world and finds itself in a moment-to-moment survival adventure. The world is Earth-like, with trees, seeds, and fruit. There’s a grazing area for blocky farm animals the narrator calls Disappointment Hill, where it befriends a cow that it later deems a best friend. The stranded protagonist is not alone, as no Minecraft world is without enemies, including stalker zombies and skeleton archers who lurk and strike with no real purpose other than to antagonize the anonymous protagonist. Each chapter title is a life lesson learned by the main character as it imagines its way to survival. Unlike Robinson Crusoe, whose castaway protagonist’s existential journey has a history that leaves readers invested in his survival, this tale loses its punch in the tedious, mundane details of Minecraft worldbuilding that are best suited to devotees of the video game. Upon reading the list of life lessons presented after the epilogue, readers may well feel that it may be far more interesting to play the actual video game than to read about it.
For Minecraft fans whose game consoles are broken. (Fantasy. 12-16)