Otaku by Chris Kluwe

A dystopian American where ‘the real’ and AR battle for everyone’s attention. Ashley Atachi lives in Ditchtown, the spires built on the remnants of a destroyed Miami. She is the captain of the highest ranking gaming team on the globe, but her personal life is wracked with strife. Her veteran mother is hit hard with PTSD, he brother hides himself in the game, and jealous gamers are trying to out her and worse.

The majority of her life is spent in the Haps: hapsphere chambers that provide the total immersive experience for gamers… and soldiers. Days and days of drone kills destroyed Ashley’s mother’s ability to tell the real from the fake. And it’s those medical bills that drive Ash the most. She needs to make that money and she’s done some special jobs at the government’s request. Yet, when one of those jobs uncovers a dark tech that has compromised a friend’s intellect. Ashley is given a chance with her team’s help to get revenge and find out the answers.

Kluwe has a gift for worldbuilding. In a crowded dystopian genre, he creates unique tech and a new way of looking at the world. I had a lot of fun with this character and all the action. But there’s more to this book than just some shoot em up. It hits on important topics that are central to gaming as well as all the technology that surrounds us.

I would say that there are a few PG-13 scenes and would rec this book for a more mature middle school and/or high school student.

A page-turning coming-of age-tech thriller. I’d definitely recommend it to my students and my librarian.

Pick this one up for an immersive futuristic story that introduces a young woman who is forced to take punches, but is more than willing to fight back!

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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