This book is called a “romantic thriller.” Meh. I guess? There is some sex in it, there is violence, there is a creepy man who wants both sex AND violence. So if that’s what makes it a romantic thriller, then okay. And yes, Second Life is featured greatly in the story.
[This is going to get long, I think, because I write too much, so there’s more after the break!]
First of all, don’t expect to really LIKE the main character. Eva Mercado is a 50 year old drunk. The prologue of the book has her taking Valium and wishing for white wine on the very first page. In the first chapter, we start off with a very long ellipse punctuated sentence about alcohol. Eva wakes up on her 50th birthday hungover, and she proceeds to practically go into withdrawals in the lobby of her apartment building where a caring girl whisks her up to her own apartment and gives her a bottle of Ouzo.
So Eva’s new buddy, Celeste, is a Greek, stuttering, mousy thing who has a dog named Horace and who happens to have a fancy pants computer. At least, I guess it’s fancy pants, as Eva basically goes crazy on her trying to get Celeste to tell her WHY she needs such a nice computer. Can’t someone just HAVE a nice computer without a reason? If you don’t do games or graphic design, you’re only allowed to still be working on a Commordore 64?
Celeste finally tells Eva that she needs the fancy pants computer for Second Life. Her stutter miraculously disappears and she waxes poetic about SL and all the things you can do there. Of course, the moment she says you can have a lover there, Eva jumps on it. She asks Celeste if she’s been having cybersex, and when Celeste says yes, Eva proceeds to laugh like a jerk at her. Nice friendship making skills there, Drunky O’Tool.
Celeste introduces Eva into Second Life and her own avatar, Kandy Kane McPhee, a stripper at some biker bar. And after another drunk night, Eva finds herself with an avatar, Isadora Tooley.
As Eva/Isadora works her way into SL, I laugh and shake my head. Some things are spot on – meeting random men, getting that damn rose that almost all men end up giving women in SL, having someone teleport her directly to a BDSM club, and falling soooo in love with someone she just met. But a lot of things are not possible in SL, such as someone offering you something and having it show up straight into your hand, people kicking or punching you and your avatar saying “Ouch,” grabbing someone’s avatar and tossing them, and giving someone rights to get into your inventory and change your clothes for you while you’re both online. If any of that is possible in SL, I’ve never seen it. It’s a little reminiscent of that CSI episode where SL was featured, but it was a Second Life that no one else really experienced.
So naturally, Eva/Isadora meets a couple of guys. Armand, a French lover who can build and script fantastic things, and Pilgrim Soul, who can also script amazingly and is a crazy creeper. She also hangs out with Spike and Vivi, a cute young couple who are basically just into SL to have fun.
A lot of things happen, leading to some crazy SL hacking, a kind of hysterical SL “war,” some RL murders, and a trip to the Second Life Convention in Boston to meet Upton Uranus, Celeste’s SL boyfriend, who also can script well. Pretty much every man in this novel is a scripter, which is kind of funny to me.
[Oh, I have to mention this. Three weeks before the convention, Celeste insists they go on a low carb diet so they can lose weight quickly before meeting people. Who hasn’t been THERE?]
I know in the NWN post, this novel was compared to that horrible Fifty Shades of Grey, but believe me, it’s nothing like that. There is sex, but it’s not the lather-rinse-repeat boring sex of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, and it’s not the main feature of this story. The writing in this novel is also a little better than in Fifty Shades.
Would I recommend this book to anyone who wasn’t already in Second Life? Noooo. No no no. A Second Life person will laugh and understand parts. An outsider will wonder what the hell is wrong with us, or come to SL and wonder why they can’t do things described in the book.
That being said, the book is a good beach read. You can finish it in a couple of hours, and parts of the story are interesting enough if you’re a Second Lifer. It’s free for the Kindle right now on Amazon, so if you’re looking for a quick read, this is for you.