Fourteen-year-old Miriam agrees to test a new computer game in utmost secrecy but finds that it is more than she bargained for.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyMiriam, a British teen, has been chosen, seemingly at random, to participate in the secret testing of New World, a cutting-edge virtual-reality game. The game exerts an addictive fascination, but Miriam grows convinced that the program is somehow tapping into her greatest (and, she believes, secret) fear. As the hidden agenda of the game programmers is gradually revealed, Miriam must strengthen bonds with family and friends in order to prevent the programmers from unleashing their potentially dangerous new product. Though this ambitious story makes some intriguing points about an array of worthwhile topics (among them trust, compassion, the nature of illusion and the need to shape one's own destiny), these themes never really come together in the sort of revelatory collision of metaphor and narrative that characterizes Cross's best works (Chartbreaker). On the other hand, the pace never slackens, the characters are subtly developed and suspense is delivered in wholesale quantities. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Kathleen KarrTeenagers Miriam and Stuart are chosen at random to test the 'New World' game before it hits the market. Donning their computer-controlled equipment three afternoons a week, the two meet each other only in the universe of the game where they become natural competitors, increasingly more willing to do anything to score the highest points. As their real worlds recede, their old nightmares increase. Have they truly been chosen at random, or is there an unknown intelligence programming their responses and their lives? This British import is an exciting read about the frightening potential of virtual reality games. 1996 (orig.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 6-8-Miriam and Stuart, both 14, have been chosen to participate in secret trials of a breakthrough virtual-reality game called New World. Will is a third teen who is trying separately to hack into the game and discover its secrets before it goes on the market. Excitement gradually turns into terror as Miriam and Stuart realize that New World involves their innermost fears, and as Will begins to see that he is being used to manipulate the game and its players. Like Cross's other novels, this is a cleverly plotted, suspenseful mystery. The situation is inherently less compelling than in some of her earlier books, however. In On the Edge (Holiday, 1985) and The Dark Behind the Curtain (Oxford, 1987), the protagonists have no control over the forces that threaten them. Miriam, Stuart, and Will always have the option of quitting the game; curiosity and suspicion keep them involved more than imminent danger. Nevertheless, the topic should grab readers, and the novel is suspenseful enough to hold them until its rapid conclusion.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
- Penguin Group (USA)
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