Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Taking place almost entirely in a shifting series of simulated environments, this speed read could be just the ticket for cyberfiction enthusiasts. Fourteen-year-old Corgan has been genetically engineered to fight a virtual reality war for possession of one of the few habitable areas left on earth. He is battling on behalf of the Western Hemisphere Federation with a team of two other superkids: pretty, rebellious Sharla, also 14, and 10-year-old mutant Brig are code-breaker and strategist, respectively. Corgan, with his hypersensitized reflexes and miraculous "time-splitting" abilities, is the brawn of the operation. Few readers will be surprised when the unquestioning hero's smart new friends show him that the Supreme Council has been feeding him lies about his society, or when he realizes he prefers flawed reality to stimulated comfort. Still, Skurzynski's (Cyberstorm) pacing is zippy, and the drills set for Corgan in preparation for the war (e.g., "Golden Bees," "Triple Multiplex" and a simulated 20th-century minefield with miniature soldiers) will keep gaming fans in good humor. Ages 10-14. (June)
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Obviously inspired by the classic Ender's Game, Virtual War sets up a team of children whose only goal in life is to win a forthcoming virtual global conflict. Team leader, Corgan, is an innocent, knowing nothing beyond the "box" in which he's spent his fourteen years living and training. This changes when he meets his co-fighters: lovely, devious Sharla, and brilliant but disabled Brig. Corgan soon finds himself torn between honor and the rewards of winning. The ending may be a fait accompli, but tension is kept high enough along the way for a good read for sci-fi buffs.
VOYA - Linda Roberts
The war begins in eighteen days. For all of his fourteen years Corgan has been genetically engineered and trained for this war. Of course, it won't be like wars used to be. This is a virtual war, bloodless and computer controlled. No one will really be hurt. All of the countries participating in this war have carefully laid out the rules, and, like Corgan, all of the "soldiers" have been trained from birth. At stake is one of the few pieces of land left on Earth that is uncontaminated from the last war-the nuclear one. No matter what happens, the war will be fought with courage, dedication, and, above all, honor. Corgan always believed he would be the only one fighting, but now he is introduced to his team members-beautiful, golden-haired Sharla, the code-breaker; and nerdy, belligerent Brig, the team strategist. Corgan, the team leader, must learn to work together with Sharla and Brig, learn to trust them without question. Corgan has always lived in a virtual world. His parent is Mendor, a virtual image of mother, father, nurturer, teacher, and disciplinarian. He does not know his biological parents. He has never interacted with a living human being nor seen or experienced the "real" world. Sharla, with her abilities to analyze and manipulate codes and systems, enables Corgan to break out of his virtual world, to interact with Brig and herself, and experience life on the outside. As a result, Corgan begins to question many things he has always taken for granted. He becomes restless and dissatisfied-not good traits when the fate of your country rests on your ability to concentrate exclusively on your goal-to win the war. As the war approaches, Corgan begins to wonder if his team members share his values, especially the one about honor. If you win without honor, do you really win? Can there be honor in a society that values only the most gifted or useful members? Corgan must ultimately ask these questions of himself, and the reader will too. This relatively short book is a quick read and holds the reader's interest to the very last page. As with many futuristic books, the world portrayed is a bleak place to live for most people, unless you've got special talents valued by the leaders of society. However bleak, Corgan eventually begins to realize that "real" life is still desirable over the "perfect" virtual world he has inhabited from birth. The countdown to the virtual war is a device that maintains suspense from the beginning to the end. Teens who enjoy science fiction or imagine what life might be like in the future, should really enjoy this book. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8In 2080, deadly viruses have wiped out most of the world's population and those who remain live in domed cities surrounded by virtual reality landscapes. Genetic engineering has created a few marvels, but has conceived even more mistakes. The Central Pacific Isles of Hiva have recently been declared decontaminated and safe for occupation. The three remaining world powers have agreed to fight a scientifically controlled, completely fair, eight-hour war for control of the islands, using only virtual soldiers. Corgan, a genetically engineered, test-tube wonder, has been bred to fight for the Western Hemisphere. Raised for all of his 14 years in sterile, isolated conditions by Mendor, a virtual parent figure, he is now at the peak of his physical and mental powers. When he finally meets his teammates, Sharla, a 14-year-old cryptographic genius; and Brig, a brilliant and physically mutated 10-year-old strategist, both of whom have been raised for the same purpose, everything changes. Like adolescents anywhere, they discover they have their own agenda to follow and must find a way to accomplish it while doing what they were created to do. This is a timely and familiar tale of adolescent rebellion set on an intriguing future Earth. Corgan, the ethical, honorable hero; Sharla, the intelligent, cynical rebel; and Brig, the bitter dwarf with a heart of gold, are stereotypical but still empathetic characters, and many readers will enjoy this fast-moving, easy read about a possible future where the best video-game player is the ultimate hero.Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Members of the Nintendo generation gain a new perspective on electronic aggression in this taut, chilling, and finely crafted novel from Skurzynski (Cyberstorm, 1995, etc.).
By the year 2080, plague and nuclear war have driven the two million surviving members of the human race into a handful of domed cities, where they eat synthetic food, sleep in cramped dormitories, and wait for the world to become livable again. A few, like Corgan and Sharla, however, are pampered. Both 14, they have been genetically bred to fight in a virtual war waged among the world's superpowers: The winner will take possession of the Hiva Islands, which have become fit for human habitation. In her depiction of a society that prefers virtual reality to the real thing, Skurzynski plays a nice riff on appearance and reality: Although Corgan's team members appear fit and healthy in the virtual realm, he secretly meets them in person and discovers that the third member, Brig, is actually a crippled mutant. This discovery prompts the three of them to explore the city and discover how its genetic mutants are treated. While Corgan's team eventually wins the war, only Corgan opts to live and work on the Hiva Islands; Sharla and Brig decide to remain behind and help those less fortunate than themselves. It's an engaging, frightening realm that readers won't soon forget.