Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller – Book Review
If you read my review of Ready Player One a couple of days ago, you might know that books about virtual reality and not-so-distant technology-advanced futures are my current favourites. So when I managed to get a proof of Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller at YALC last year, I was instantly intrigued!
The company says Otherworld is amazing – like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive – that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.
Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.
And it’s about to change humanity forever.
Welcome to Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.
Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller:
Otherworld, on first glance, seemed to feature everything that I love, so it seemed right up my street. I was even more intrigued when I realised that it’s co-written by Jason Segel, who I mainly know as Marshall in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. I knew this was a book I had to read straight away!
The story follows Simon, a rich kid and eager gamer who is dying to try out Otherworld, the new virtual reality game the the world is going crazy for. What first seems like a fun game turns into something that’s going to change his entire life – virtual reality and actual reality – forever.
The whole virtual reality part of the book was done so well. It felt so researched and authentic, and I could tell that Segel has a huge interest in it. The world was built effortlessly without pages and pages of description (I’m looking at you, Ready Player One), and it almost made me wish I could experience this new world for myself.
I’ve always loved sandbox, open-world, quest-based games, and Otherworld was like an actual version of this that characters felt as if they’re really living in. It was so enticing to read and I felt so immersed in this fantastical world.
Back to Reality
Then, intertwined with the virtual reality segments were parts set in the real world. I tended to find myself wanting to skip these a lot of the time and get back to the parts set in Otherworld, because they seemed so much more exciting. There were parts where I wondered if they were truly necessary to include, especially at the beginning. And there were definitely parts that made Simon a real douche of a person and I really disliked him. When I dislike the protagonist, I start to fall into a place where I don’t care what happens to them, so I hoped that wouldn’t happen.
However, the further the story progressed, I started to feel as immersed in these real life sections as much as I did when the story was back in Otherworld. The story suddenly got crazy very quickly – maybe too crazy to be realistic, but then in books like this, realism isn’t exactly high on my wishlist! I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about how these parts were way too thriller-esque to fit within a sci-fi story, but I didn’t think so at all. I was gripped all the way through and I couldn’t stop reading. (In fact, Goodreads tells me I read the book in about 5 days. Not bad!)
Similarities to Other Books
On reflection, I realise that Otherworld takes its inspiration from so many books of the same or similar genres, and it’s pretty obvious. When I read this I hadn’t read Ready Player One, but now that I’ve read both, I can see that Otherworld is similar in SO many different ways – the characters, the gaming aspects, and other things too.
Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. There are elements of Otherworld that I enjoyed so much more than books in the same genre, because of the way it uses its own unique elements. Plus, the Otherworld… world is so advanced and developed that it most definitely seems like its own unique idea, despite taking a lot of inspiration from others.
Overall, I really liked this book. There are a few things that made me knock off a star, like how much I didn’t like the main character, some of the controversial things he says (see other people’s Goodreads reviews if you want examples), and the slightly boring real life segments in the first third or so. But generally, I couldn’t stop reading and I was completely sucked into this futuristic, fantastical, partially-virtual world.
Recommended for: Fans of Ready Player One and other virtual reality based novels; gamers and geeks; fans of fantastical dystopian worlds.
Click the links below to buy a copy of Otherworld* or read about it on Goodreads:
*Note: Affiliate links used – click here for details. 🙂