Author: Stan Faryna
Genre: Science Fiction, Post-apocalyptic, Futurism, Young Adult, Adventure
I received an eARC from the author in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
In 2026, hundreds of millions of gamers hustle in an epic, virtual reality to win real cash prizes. Zombies, ruthless players, scarce resources and menacing artificial intelligence are just a few of the challenges in ‘Jacob's Trouble’, where less than one in a thousand manage to level up, grind for gear and avoid permadeath in order to loot hidden treasures and find life-changing wealth.
Recently unemployed, Francesco sells his father's legacy, a Rolex watch, for guidance in the game. Caught up in the naive hope he’ll win the prize money for an experimental, nanobotic cancer treatment for his wife, the ex-janitor begins an adventure that offers all the promise of redemption, but far greater challenges than he ever realized.
Can Francesco, an eighty-year-old non-gamer, find windfall and fortune in this dark and dystopic virtual reality game? Zombies, guns, machetes and death in a game might seem inconsequential, but the cost of failure is a reality this elderly man cannot bear.
Wow! I was really impressed by how much was explained and developed in so few pages! But, because this is a Saturday Short, I will focus only on my three favorite pieces.
1. I am freaking in love with Francesco, which may be weird, because he's an old, married man, but oh well. I'm not looking for loving, I just adore the idea of an MC who is so very much in love with his wife that he is willing to put himself in harm's way if there is even a chance of saving her.
2. As previously stated, Faryna does A LOT with the few pages he uses. New world? Built it! Believable characters? Creates them! Whole new money and post-apocalyptic system? Done. And, the best part was that I lapped it out of his hands as a bird yanks away hunks of bread. One big problem with this? I NEED BOOK TWO. I seriously need to know if Francesco helps his wife. Does he succeed? Does he fail? Does Carl finally bite the big one?
3. When I started reading this piece, I was sure that I wouldn't like it. I was so damned confused that I didn't think I could go on for another minute. Yet, for some reason I felt compelled to. I got to the middle of the book before things really started to make sense. Now, typically this is not a good thing in my book. By the time I'm half done, I should be sure as snot about what the heck I'm reading. Faryna, however, broke this rule. I got to the midpoint and WHAM the plot hit me upside the head and made total sense. I have a lot of respect for an author who can use words to confuse the audience as easily as he can put the final pieces together for that same audience.
I look forward to reading more from Faryna in the future.
Stan Faryna can be contacted at any of the links below.
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