This is one of those books where an everyday normal guy gets into something totally cool. I mean the story is something I would absolutely love to be involved in although I wouldn’t personally want to be the main character in this book. The reason for that is that Benjamin Murdock is dying! Yes, he’s just 21 and the story begins in his doctors office with him getting the news about his cancer! That’s very tough way to start a book! (What an understatement!)
So, where do you go with a story that starts with the main character being clearly told he has only a few months to maybe a year to live? Well, you team him up with his best friend and I mean a really, really best friend, like someone that would do anything an everything for you if they could. Don’t think I ever had a friend like that, but Ben does and his name is Matt (no last name). And Matt is the first person Ben tells about his short future. Of course Matt knew that Ben was going to the doctors so he kind of figured the news would be bad from their previous discussions. Matt offered to come pick Ben up after his doctor’s visit so they could go do something to get Ben’s mind off his news, if that was possible.
Ben and Matt are recent college graduates with Ben getting a BS in Computer Science and a minor in music. He could play a guitar once in a while if his cancer wasn’t getting in the way and Matt had set them up in his band that did bring in a few dollars every so often. So they were typical college types trying to work their way through school and trying to keep their student loans down as low as possible.
But, right now Matt figured Ben needed something to take his mind off his bad news so he told him about this new VR arcade call VR Awesome! Ben wasn’t sure about this but Matt said this place was brand new, just opened and was probably going to be a lot of fun. So, Ben said he’d go and that’s where he found himself just a little while later.
Here they get involved in a simulation game called “Star Squadron” which involved the players flying simulated starships in space shooting at other players in their simulated starships. This was the kind of geeky game that Ben just loved so Matt thought it would be great for him. And it was. Ben was pretty good at this kind of game although he didn’t know why. His team comprised of four other players among whom were a young kid, and what appeared to be his Mom and Dad and another total stranger about Ben’s age. Matt played for the other team because he didn’t know much about the game and didn’t want Ben’s team to suffer from his total lack of gaming abilities! The game went as expected with Ben kind of taking charge the squadron directing team members where to go, well, except for the strange guy who turns out to be a total jerk.
Ben had his squadron working pretty well by teaming them up to take on the other side who would fight as single individuals. Then the jerk guy saw Matt’s star-fighter all alone and having difficulty since Matt couldn’t figure out how the thing worked. So this jerk said he was going after Matt which Ben didn’t see as necessary. Anyway, it turns out that Ben caused the jerk to lose his star-fighter in the battle and before Ben knew what was happening he was being physically pulled from his simulator! The jerk kid was livid and was going to take out his rage on Ben. Matt saw what was about to happen so he stepped in and that resulted in the other guy winding up flat on his back. Ben wasn’t necessarily not good in a fight, but Matt had some martial arts training and they came in very handy with this jerk.
So, the fight got them throw out of the arcade even though everyone knew that it wasn’t their fault. Ben said he was hungry so he and Matt then headed to the local college hamburger joint. Ben and Matt talked about everything and this was one of those times when at least Ben needed someone to talk to. On the way Ben got a text out of no where from some guy wanting to sell of all things a starship. He said it was a movie prop and in story but the story fees were getting too much so the guy needed to sell it to someone. Of course Ben knew this was some kind of scam, but he mentioned it to Matt who agreed with him and recommended he delete the text immediately.
Ben intended to do just that, but just before they went into the hamburger joint, he decided, what the heck, and sent a reply to the text saying he was interested. Now he didn’t know why he did that and he certainly didn’t have the kind of money this guy was probably asking, but the idea of owning a starship did interest him. But, he soon forgot all about it when their delicious hamburgers were set in front of them. Then a guy name Mr. Keep shows up and things start going very strange. This is where the story takes off and you’ll enjoy every bit of it even if it is a pretty far stretch of the imagination. No it’s not another “The Last Starfighter” story but it’s just something that I would love to have happened to me back in the day.
I’m thoroughly hooked on this new series so I’ve already added book 2, “Head Case” to my reading list. I also see that book 3, “Keep Away” is expected out around 26 May 2022. That one will go on my reading list also. Great story.