Today’s book, “Recoil: The game is Real”, takes place in what could be an alternate version of our world. Much of everything is the same, save for the fact that everyone keeps themselves very isolated from the people around them. At some point in the not too distant past, terrorists have attacked and set loose a deadly pandemic. There is currently still no cure and the disease is highly contagious. Those who catch it always die a slow and painful death. Because of this, most people tend to stay within their homes and wear protective gear when they must go outside or among others. School is attended online and most teenagers play in an online virtual reality game that involves different aspects of fighting terrorists to protect society.
In this book we follow a 16 year old girl by the name of Jinx E. Jones (Jinxy). JInxy plays a sniper in “the game.” In the beginning of the book, she wins a competition by “killing” the main terrorist and is offered a chance to attend a special training academy based on her in-game scores. There, she and others are trained physically & mentally based on their game specialties. For Jinxy, this feels like a wonderful opportunity as she has not gotten to spend much time with anyone other than her mother and brother since the beginning of the war. She soon proves herself to be an expert sniper, and along with the others attending the training camp, she graduates and is offered a position as a sniper shooting infected rats and other animals who are carriers of the plague.
While Jinxy is proud of her skill as a sniper, she doesn’t like the idea of actually killing anything. The other members of her squad soon manage to convince her that she will be helping to protect her family and other innocent citizens from these plague carriers. She eventually agrees to take the position, and does her best to harden her heart by telling herself that she is helping to save lives by shooting a few rats & other animals. Still, it bothers her much more than she likes to admit. And to make matters worse, being a sniper has cost her the love of another cadet. Once he found out what her specialty was, he broke up with her without any explanation. He wouldn’t even talk to her afterwards or explain what it was about her being a “ratter” that offended him so much.
Before long, her impressive skills bring her to the notice of the commander. “Sarge” begins trying to convince her that it is in everyone’s best interests for her to agree to accept missions involving killing infected humans to prevent the spread of the plague. When she hesitates, he takes her to visit an area hospital so that she can see for herself what happens to those who are infected. Again, though she is very upset at the idea of killing any living thing, she is convinced to accept this new assignment in the interest of protecting other innocent people.
She still doesn’t like the idea, but being young and impressionable, she is soon convinced that it is the right thing to do. Before long, they also manage to convince her to go on missions where she must assist in capturing terrorists themselves for interrogations. Again, she is not thrilled with the assignment but is convinced by the others that it is in the best interest of society as well as the best hope for protecting her family and everyone else. And finally, she manages to get her ex-boyfriend to talk to her. Realizing that she truly doesn’t know, he explains to her what is really going on...
I found this book somewhat disturbing because I could very easily see what happens in this story happening in the world today. (There is much more going on in the story than I explained here, but I don’t want to spoil the whole plot for you.) It is a very well written story and one that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels. This one really makes you think about whether or not something like this could really happen in today’s world. And if it did happen, how would it start?