If you’re looking for a futuristic semi-dystopian where country disputes are settled through Olympic-style virtual sporting events played to the death (kind of like the Hunger Games), but with a distinctly “Matrix” vibe to it, well, that’s “MegaDeath” in a nutshell. In this futuristic version of the world, the global pecking order is decided every 4 years through a series of virtual simulator competitions which have replaced all wars. Sounds kind of nice, except the losing team dies and there’s something very fishy going on with the bets people make around these top athletes, and the Control system that puts on these virtual games. That’s where our main character, Megan, comes in. She is the elite of the elite when it comes to dominating in these games, but she doesn’t play for glory. She plays because she is in such intense anger and grief that she wants these games to punish her. That’s really compelling, but, unfortunately, Megan spent too long being an unlikable character to really get me invested in her, or the conflict.
I am all for showcasing the various degrees of grief in fiction. But when one of the characters describes Megan’s three personality types as “angry, sad, and angry-sad”, they weren’t kidding. She pushes away every single person who tries to reach her through her grief. Some of that push back makes sense, while others didn’t. Like how adamantly Megan pushes away her little sister which results in her being very callous for most of the book, and Megan’s parents seem unbelievably out of touch for both of their daughters. It took far too long for Megan to think about anyone but herself, and even then, because Megan came off as a fairly two-dimensional character, her transformation was too little too late for me. Unfortunately, that can be said of most of the characters. There are a lot of characters in this book, but all of them only have one or two traits that encompass their whole personality, making them all a little superficial.
But if you’re a fan of a lot of action around different kinds of sporting events, “MegaDeath” delivers that in spades! We get to see how Megan and her team play each event and the survivors guilt she gets saddled with each time. However, I could have have welcomed a little less focus on the post-game antics and more character development so the many twists at the end came across more grounded, personally. Some of the twists this story takes are big, others rather small, but most felt a bit too convenient for me. Some of which undermined the light romance in this book to the point where I didn’t believe two characters even had any kind of meaningful relationship. There was one curve ball I did like a lot though, and it makes me wish we got more of the cheerleaders in this book, but that’s all I’ll say about that. While this book is a standalone, I wasn’t a fan of how the story ended, even though I am a fan of the Matrix movies, so take that as you will. The ending, coupled with the fact that I just never could root for Megan much as a character, is why this book gets 3 stars from me. But, like I said, if you are a super fan of dystopias’ like the Matrix and the Hunger Games with high stakes virtual games, you may really enjoy this! And thanks to Novel Cause Publicity for sending me a copy to review.
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!