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From Kirsten Miller, author of THE ETERNAL ONES and HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME, and Jason Segel, actor, writer and coauthor of the Nightmares! series, comes OTHERWORLD. This young adult novel is a science fiction story about a virtual reality game that feels more real than life itself, an evil organization and the hero’s quest to save the girl he loves.

Simon Eaton is an 18-year-old living in the affluent, quiet town of Brockenhurst, New Jersey. He’s also a convicted cybercriminal thanks to his old roommate from boarding school, Elvis, and his hacking. For most of his life, Simon has been left to his own devices, his parents, both successful, having left him in the care of various nannies. Simon is also one of the millions of people addicted to Otherworld, a virtual reality game that was taken over by Milo Yolkin and his company, the Company. He and his childhood best friend, Kat, have fallen out of touch and their friendship has all but ended. However, Simon’s been worried about Kat for months, she’s been acting unlike herself and she has a new stepfather who has completely changed her and her mother’s life. When he hears about a party she’s attending, Simon decides to go as well and try to help her.

"If you are fan of action scenes, or novels about virtual reality games like READY PLAYER ONE and WARCROSS, OTHERWORLD is the right book for you."

Unfortunately, a terrible accident at the party turns the night into something sinister. Several kids are left dead and only two escape unscathed (Simon included). Kat and a few other partygoers who were injured are all diagnosed with locked-in syndrome, a rare condition of total paralysis while still retaining full consciousness. Simon learns that the Company has developed a technology that will allow people with this condition to experience life again. A disk must be attached to the back of the patient’s head and they will be fully immersed in Otherworld; they can taste, touch, smell, hear, and feel everything… including pain and even death. One night at the hospital, Simon sees that maybe everything is not what the Company claims it to be and is given the opportunity to experience this new Otherworld himself. He begins on a quest to find Kat, who he now realizes he loves, and get to the bottom of this suspicious situation. Otherworld is overrun with beings called Children that will stop at nothing to kill and manipulate Simon and the friends he meets on his way to finding Kat. Meanwhile, all is not well in the real world either and Simon must find a way to fix everything.

OTHERWORLD was a solid read. The description and imagery was very well done, but the humor and nature of the protagonist often felt immature and many aspects of the science fiction story felt cliché, like I had seen them in other novels about virtual reality games before. There are a number of high energy action scenes, but for the most part, OTHERWORLD jumps around from place to place making for a fast-paced but somewhat confusing story. Miller and Segel were able to craft a well-done science fiction world, the only issue is that it did not feel new. Instead, many parts of the novel felt unoriginal, even though the world-building and the writing was often good. OTHERWORLD has many good aspects, but certain issues like the repetitive jokes about the same things and the fact that it just did not feel like a very new idea, made it not really the right book for me.

If you are fan of action scenes, or novels about virtual reality games like READY PLAYER ONE and WARCROSS, OTHERWORLD is the right book for you. It’s fast-paced, a relatively quick read and has some well-developed characters. OTHERWORLD is perfect for readers looking for a science fiction novel that blends the real world with the virtual world.

Reviewed by Ansley K., Teen Board Member on October 30, 2018

by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller