Opening Moves by Cosimo Yap
Reviewed by Tobias Roote
Description:The Earth is changing. The alien invasion brought social upheaval, advanced technology, and an armada of peacekeeping robots. But Alan, a college student pursuing a now-useless degree, cares little about all of this. He has only one thing on his mind: the Game.
A fully immersive virtual reality, the Game appears to be a major part of the invading civilization. Alan can't wait to play, recklessly diving into the digital universe. Soon though, Alan realises the Game is anything but simple, and the stakes are higher than he ever imagined.
Firstly, it is important that I say that this review covers two books. It should have been one, but then I felt compelled to go out and buy the second book as soon as I got to the end of the first (which tells you something about book 1).
The story begins well and plummets the reader straight into a world of Virtual Reality. If you're not a gamer, or a gamer-type you 'might' not like this story, but if you persevere into the book, you won't regret it. The author, Cosimo Yap, has a very real grip on his subject and knows how to elicit the best from the game and the story at the same time. The two run seamlessly side by side and even if you know very little about gaming at the beginning of this series, you'll have a good comprehension of it by the end.
I have to add a small 'downer' here in that the game stats constantly appearing in the books represented minor 'pull-you-out-of-story' moments. I found I was often skipping the pages of stats to move swiftly through to the next bit of the story, which even without them, is gripping and full of fast-paced action. Real Gamers will love the stats as they contain very real information (which to be honest, the reader needs to follow to get the best out of the book).
All of the characters are fleshed out well and the relationships are continually 'tested' while the reader is left struggling along with Alan, the MC, to understand where he belongs in the scheme of things. There are traitors, self-interested individuals, groups and hosts of enemies. You will be amazed at the constant turn and turn about of the highly sophisticated plots and maneuvering of the humans as well as the aliens in these absorbing books. However, Alan's previous gaming experience gives him serious advantages in developing into a major player. Most of the time that means he's more confused than ever, but luckily, with occasional insights from other players, the reader is kept in the loop.
So, the story line is excellent. The reader can easily follow Alan's progress through his induction into the 'Game' and his initiation and training. The action, as previously said, is consistent and fast-paced leaving no time to for the reader to ponder. You quickly recognise the human and alien politics of the 'game' that Alan is becoming embroiled in. There's a lot going on and I think both books are worthy of a second read.
I've since read the final in the trilogy and have to say it left me wanting more. As I've already said, Cosimo has a good understanding of the principles of gaming and uses it to thread an amazing interstellar political war between multiple species.