Spoiler Free Summary:  World One by Vail Henry is a fascinating look into a world that has been abandoned for the sake of a digital world. Think a dramatic, creepy Ready Player One without the video game or pop culture. In this story, there is a small group of people who don’t want to be lost in the virtual world. They seek connection. These people are shunned. Kat is trying to change that world, but there are those who don’t want the world to change. They profit from the business of virtual life, and they’ll do anything to continue raising the profits.

This cover image was taken from the book’s Goodreads page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character:  The characters are charming in one way and horrible in others. By horrible I mean they’re not good people. I hated the male lead because of how insensitive he was to his wife and inattentive he was to his son. However, the reasons he acted that way made perfect sense. This made the characters strong, but not my type. I probably would have enjoyed this story more if the male lead was a bit more rounded out. However, one character (none are memorable enough for me to recall their names) had a wonderful arc. She started off just some woman who was clueless and lost and evolved quite well. I was impressed by that arc.

Exposition: There was more exposition than I could really accept. There were several points where we were seeing things happening, but we were forced to listen to them as if being told rather than watch events unfold. There may have been an effort at poetic musing, but it just came off as exposition that dragged down the plot. This is where the story could have improved the most. I was told a lot, but I wasn’t shown much.

Worldbuilding: While it could have been better, it was still fascinating for what it was. There is the digital world, the real world, and a sanctuary (for lack of a better word). We see the most of the real world, but we don’t experience it much. We see the sanctuary, which cool because of their customs and vague magic system. This is probably what interested me most about the book, and I so wish I had more to sink my teeth into.

Image of Ms. Henry was taken from her website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Dialogue: This was ok, but I need to note accent and style in writing. Sometimes a character’s voice or vocal mannerisms are great for video, but they don’t work in the written word. What would be a great asset in a video format just comes off hard to read in text. I could follow the conversation, but I had to work harder than I think a reader should.  

Description: This was another area of improvement. I’m seeing it a lot in the last few books I’ve been reading. Metaphors and similes are great, but if they’re overused, a reader can’t tell if they’re literally seeing something of just reading poetic imagination. This story made it hard to tell a lot of the time.

Overall: Where Ready Player One was a fun and nostalgic take on a population immersed in virtual worlds, World One shows us how disconnected humanity would be and challenges us to consider if we’d really want to live in a world without real people and real connections. The prose and exposition are a bit much, but the characters and world are fascinating.

Thanks for reading

Matt

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