Virtual World

Virtual World

5.0 2
by Westwood Chris

When computer junkie Jack North downloads a pirated copy of Silicon Sphere from the internet, he can't wait to try it out. After all, Sphere is said to be the ultimate in virtual reality, with graphics, sounds, even smells so realistic, you'd swear you were actually inside the game. But when other people who have played Silicon Sphere start to disappear, Jack suspects…  See more details below


When computer junkie Jack North downloads a pirated copy of Silicon Sphere from the internet, he can't wait to try it out. After all, Sphere is said to be the ultimate in virtual reality, with graphics, sounds, even smells so realistic, you'd swear you were actually inside the game. But when other people who have played Silicon Sphere start to disappear, Jack suspects there may be something more to the game than meets the eye something altogether sinister. What he discovers as he walks the line between reality and illusion, between sanity and madness, is a virtual world so nightmarish that the only way out may be to give in. Chris Westwood is the acclaimed author of many novels for young adults including Brother of Mine, Calling All Monsters, and Shock Waves.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Virtual World is a creepy vision of a game gone wrong. Jack Norris is a computer junkie who gets his hands on a copy of the new virtual reality game, Silicon Valley. Rumor has it that several young people have disappeared, playing this ultimate Virtual Reality game. When Jack begins to play, he feels as if he's inside the game, and as if the game is responding to him. Then parts of the real world start to leak into the game, and parts of the game seem to leak into real life. Jack begins to doubt reality, as he discovers the truth that might be even stranger than the game. For fairly sophisticated readers.
The ALAN Review - Jim Brewbaker
Christ Westwood's Virtual World is just what the doctor ordered for teenage computer games junkies. In it, Jack, Kyle, and Kate lose their way in Silicon Sphere, a scary virtual reality game so lifelike that it is all but impossible to draw the line between fact and fiction. The brainchild (literally) of evil genius Eddie Matrix, Silicon Sphere, available illegally via the Internet, so intoxicates those who play it that they become unwilling or unable to stop. Virtual World is set at an unspecified time somewhere between ten and fifty years into the future. Its real world is one where, because of overpopulation, crime, and squandering of resources, the settings of computer simulations are, to some, better than life itself. Though Westwood doesn't do much with this theme, the fact that his characters are caught in a less liveable time and place provokes thought and discussion. If one makes the logical leap called for by Virtual World, it is a good read. Westwood's descriptions of the simulated places of Silicon Sphere are vivid. Though his teen characters are pale by comparison, few young readers will notice. Recommended for ages thirteen and up.
VOYA - Rayna Patton
In a near-future time, life is becoming ever more grimy and difficult. Computer gaming and virtual reality games are hugely successful, as the OS matrix technology makes the interface between computers and users practically seamless. But nothing in game playing has prepared teenager Jack North or his friends for "Silicon Sphere," a new VR game in which the distinction between real and virtual blurs and disappears. When Jack enters the game he sees a trail of footprints behind him; when he leaves, red sandy dust trails into his bedroom. Around the world young people are disappearing. Is this connected to the game? Why is leaving the game increasingly hard to do, and why does Jack find that the outside seems less real than the game world? Eventually Jack is totally absorbed into the game; with several friends similarly trapped, he ends up in the Alphazone, where he meets Eddie Matrix. Eddie is part man, part Borg, all genius, and Silicon Sphere is his creation. He has constructed it to avenge himself against the man who stole his invention of the OS matrix, but his ambitions go much further. He plans nothing less than to replace the old world with a new VR one, made up of his dreams and the dreams of the people who choose to join him. Jack and his friends are implanted with a new powerful processing chip and begin to comprehend Eddy's vision of the new reality evolving in the sphere. They are free to go back to the real world or to stay in Silicon Sphere. Jack chooses to return to the real world, but it seems clear that he will return to the sphere sooner or later, and be there perhaps forever. The frame of the plot is woven into as exciting and engrossing a tale as any teenage tekkie could hope to encounter outside VR. What begins as a rather simple story of a teenage boy playing a computer game turns out to be much more complex and dark. Is Eddie mad? Is our world so flawed that to replace it is simpler than to fix it? Can virtual reality become so appealing that it makes reality seem irrelevant? This book raises these questions without providing any answers. Hurry to buy it and recommend it with confidence to all those teenagers already hooked by the Silicon Revolution. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being 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 8-10A timely, high-tech offering set in Britain in the near future. Computer aficionado Jack North is ecstatic to get hold of a pirated copy of a new video game. However, the 14 year old soon learns that Silicon Sphere employs an operating system that can co-opt his very being, thrusting him and his friends into a dangerous and strange maze-filled virtual world. Almost too late, he discovers that the players have become pawns in a deadly face-off between Eddie Matrix, the once innocent, now vengeful creator of Silicon Sphere, and Leon Speakes, a ruthless entrepreneur who has stolen Matrix's powerful software. The premise of this cyber-adventurethat virtual reality can exploit human reality to create a virtual environment inhabited by humansis an intriguing science fiction theme, but Westwood's cardboard characters and the story's omniscient narrator who leaves little to readers' imagination dilute the inherent mystery. The novel is also unnecessarily fragmented by alternating Eddie and Jack's parallel stories. Nonetheless, readers will be fascinated and provoked by the scary implications of the book's theme. They might question how Jack eventually and miraculously escapes the prison of his virtual world, but they won't forget the nightmare he endures.Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
Kirkus Reviews
From Westwood (Brother of Mine, 1994, etc.), a silly, slippery cyberspace tale. In the near future, Jack and Kyle live in a violent world where venturing outside of the towering apartment buildings is an ordeal, and where cable home shopping and online movies are favorite pastimes. When Jack learns of a new virtual reality game, Silicon Sphere, he can't wait to play, but is unprepared when he becomes trapped in the virtual world along with other young hackers. Eventually, hotshot Eddie Matrix ("At night, in bed, a cursor blinked behind his closed eyes") helps the teens escape their computerized cage and returns them to the real world, where Jack eagerly turns to some books for wholesome entertainment. Westwood's condemnation of computers is lacking in originality or subtlety—characters who indulge in VR games complain of withdrawal-like symptoms—while his grasp of technology is shaky at best, with Jack so fascinated by his simple color monitor that he can't glance at a bedside clock to see how much time has elapsed. Few readers—up on the latest technobabble or not—will want to download this diatribe.

Read More

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Virtual World 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chris Westwood's writing is nothing short of amazing. All I can tell you is to buy this book as soon as you can. Otherwise you're really going to be missing out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! If you love a good sci-fi book to read, and would love just to get away from it all, this is a great book for you.