Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Ursula Poznanski's 'Erebos'

With every day that passes my reality becomes less valuable. It’s loud, disordered, unpredictable and arduous.
Reality—what can it do? Make you hungry, thirsty, dissatisfied. It causes pain, strikes you down with disease, obeys laughable laws. But above all it is finite. It always leads to death.
It is other things that count, that are powerful: ideas, passions, even madness. Everything that elevates itself above reason.
I withdraw my consent from reality. I deny it my assistance. I dedicate myself to the temptations of escapism, and throw myself wholeheartedly into the endlessness of unreality. (Page 188).

“Erebos” (2010) has a cover that instantly hits readers with a Big Brother feel and a darkness that creeps through the pages. Ursula Poznanski’s book (translated by Judith Pattinson as the original is in German) centres on Nick Dunmore who wants in on a game, but then becomes so involved with the game that it bleeds into reality in perhaps the worst way; asking gamers to progress by completing tasks in reality as well. The Big Brother feel comes from the game and the darkness comes from the characters just as much as the game Erebos itself as reality and unreality blur and the need and desire to be online all the time is too much for Nick to take. And let’s face it, the game Erebos appears highly addictive and entertaining as it is woven masterfully through the text to blur even the readers’ minds through shifts in tense and relationships (whether online or not). The creativity of the author to build on such an unusual and unique game, whilst trying to convey obsession with it, is done incredibly well.

This book is set up for Young Adult readers and is rather long, but full of suspense and tension that really builds towards the end as the puzzle of the game is solved. My favourite parts of the novel are the snippets from the overseer of the game as above. They hold depth and darkness that can really rip in to a soul, wanting me (at least) to almost align with this voice who seems to know all but be separated from it. It creates a strong sense of power in the text and is incredibly engaging.

I didn’t always enjoy the characters. In saying that, the characterisation is strong; however because they are written so well as adolescents I could find them frustrating at times because they thought like adolescents. Adrian’s level of maturity was definitely refreshing when compared to the protagonist Nick. This is what makes the level of authorship in this text so strong: the ability to write so well outside the author’s age group and be in the mind of teenagers obsessed with online gaming.

Adults (unlike myself) may not want to read a Young Adult’s novel (though Twilight never seemed to bother anyone (sense the sarcasm there?)), but the thrilling elements of the text are well created and the online game itself is intriguing to learn all about. Whilst the online gaming element to this text may also deter female readers (again unlike myself), it is well written (and translated of course) and is a good example of how plotlines and characterisation all unite to create a thrilling end for any reader.


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