Title: Otherworld
Written by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Published in Australia by Bloomsbury
RRP: $19.99 (AUD, pb)

Simon Eaton has returned to his parents and their home after being expelled from his elite boarding school. His only friend, Kat, has not had contact with him and he knows something is desperately wrong. The only way Simon can contact her is through an online virtual reality game, Otherworld 2.0. He purchases two sets of gear, one for himself and one for Kat, and they begin to play. It is not long, however, that Simon witnesses a fatal accident in an abandoned building during a party in which only a few, including Kat, survive. Kat is taken to hospital suffering the rare locked-in syndrome, where her mind is working but her body cannot.

Simon does not leave her side and is shown some new technology being developed to help sufferers such as Kat. When patients have a disk and visor applied to their body, they are transported to White City. When they leave White City, however, they enter Otherworld. It is inhabited by two types of guests, those who have purchased equipment and can come and go as they please around their daily lives, and patients such as Kat, trapped. There are the typical online gaming characters and worlds through which the guests travel. There are also the children, bad code generated by The Creator, the young mastermind who developed Otherworld. As circumstances and situations become more intense and mysterious, Kat is moved to a medical facility along with numerous other accident victims suffering the same rare affliction. Simon anonymously receives the same equipment used by the patients, through which he can visit Otherworld. Simon must find Kat, and as he searches he learns more about the conspiracy and crimes of those behind the testing.

This is a gripping read, as addictive as Otherworld itself. The movement between the gaming and the real world is seamless and enables the plot to have an added level of changeability. The construction of the narrative is cleverly built with complex characters and unexpected twists and turns. It is a gripping read and I found it so hard to put down. It ends on a cliff hanger, I can’t wait for the next book to come out!

Teen and adult readers who are keen gamers will really enjoy this book. It will join my all time favourites to promote to my teen students, and is one every secondary and public should library should stock in multiples.

Check out the book trailer on You Tube here.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury and Allen and Unwin for sending this book for review.