Otaku by Chris Kluwe is a sci-fi novel based in a postapocalyptic setting similar to Ready Player One. In this world, our protagonist Ashley Akachi is the number one gamer in the world, or at least what’s left of the world. The world itself is barely surviving after a war over limited resources of water, and now the governments left over treat the majority of their civilians like dirt. The gamers or Otaku, wear polymer suits that allow them to feel everything in a virtual reality world. The more money you have, the more access you have to realistic suits and sensors.
I’ll try not to give much away, but these skills that people learn in the Endgame becomes can translate to actual skills in real life, and the suits help tone and build muscles as well. So it’s kind of funny visualizing video gamers being these buff and muscular people. Outside of the game, the culture is very sexist, rough, and aggressive. Mass protesting and dangers around every corner. It’s not a surprise that so many want to live in VR.
The author has an interesting background, as an ex-NFL player you can see the connections between how he may have felt while on the field, and how the protagonist feels in her combat situations. The action is well written, but it is frequently broken down into split seconds, which sometimes makes you question the plausibility on the characters’ behaviors. The book also has people taking the form of drones and robots and how it can affect a person’s perception of reality when back in reality so it definitely fits the sci-fi genre well.
The story keeps you hooked, and surprisingly the action can get your heart racing, something most books cannot do to me. The descriptive gore and mutilation is something some may want to do with out, you can almost compare it to how one would describe Mortal Kombat Violence. But if you’re a gamer yourself and play some violent games, it’s pretty relatable. The characters are fairly deep in their development and personalities, although sometimes the message on social justice is too blatant. Not that there is anything wrong with the author’s goal to help spread awareness, but sometimes you cannot help but get the “alright, I get it already” feeling. I know for a fact that if my fiance read this book, she’d be happy seeing the promotion of anti-sexism, but she would go crazy with the whole, in order to be a strong woman you have to be a bitch archetype.
I may have some criticisms about things like this, but it is refreshing to see that the stronger people in the world are females. Some of the other well done parts of the book are how the author tells the thoughts and reactions of the main character, not to mention how she compartmentalizes traumatic experiences. As well, the author does a fantastic job describing the technology. It is written well enough that the descriptions of the tech are understandable without needing to be a computer or mechanical engineer, but also not lacking in detail. The environments and settings are also executed flawlessly, I never found myself having a difficult time visualizing the scenes.