I’ve been meaning to get to this book for a while now but because I wound up in the hospital dying earlier this month I’m sorely behind on my June 2013 release reviews. I first found out about this book when I had a chance encounter with the author on Twitter regarding hotel reservations and San Diego Comic Con. So when I was approved for a copy over at Edelweiss I was pretty excited to see what Rush had to offer. Rush is Eve Silver’s first YA novel but she’s published over a dozen other novels for adults including a couple paranormal romance series for adults and a bad ass looking dystopian series called the Northern Wastes about a lady ice trucker.
In the author’s own words, Rush has:
Ten random things in RUSH: aliens, action, kendo, sci-fi, game, life bar, scores, Las Vegas, cute boys, caves
— Eve Silver (@Eve_Silver) June 25, 2013
Which is a fairly accurate description of this book in just ten words.
Rush follows a teenage girl named Miki Jones whose life is completely upended by ‘The Game.’ They say no good deed goes unpunished and Miki’s decision to jump in front of a truck to save the life of a deaf child definitely earns her a very particular type of punishment. Instead of dying, Miki finds herself in a lobby preparing for a mission with a handful of other teenagers – two of whom she recoginzes from school. There is no time for any real explanation or training. One minute she’s on the street in her hometown walking home and the next she’s whisked away to fight aliens invading the planet.
All she’s told is to stay back and not let her ‘con’ – or life bar – turn from green to red. Red and you’re dead. If you survive the mission, you’re healed and get to go back to your life in the real world. Die in the game and you die for real. Reality retcons back to when you should have died. Every moment you live after you join the game is almost unreal; it’s almost like borrowed time. And if you fail? Well. There goes humanity. These missions aren’t just about Miki and her team mates but the survival of the planet as a whole.
Watching Miki try to adapt to this new part of her life is actually really interesting. But it’s also equally frustrating at times. All Miki – and the reader – wants are answers. Which the book is very hesitant to offer. Even having finished it I’m not entirely sure whether or not the game is real or not. I have a really had time understanding what’s going on and how the world building in this story actually works. Some things just don’t make sense. And unlike Miki I don’t have the attractive and enigmatic Jackson Tate or the equally alluring Luka to harass for information.
What I did like, though, was how Miki’s friends sort reacted to her change in moods and the fact that she was hanging out with guys sort of blowing off her friends. Unintentionally, of course. It just happens that Miki and two of her team mates from the Game all live in the same time. That was pretty realistic – girls can just be bitches when you start hanging out with guys they’d like to bang. The book has some very striking moments of painfully realistic high school life and then it shifts into basically live-action Halo. Which is actually really interesting and the premise is fantastic. I just have a lot of questions that continue to go unanswered.
That said, maybe the next two books in the trilogy – first Push and then Crash – will help explain some of the issues I had with the world building. This book tried but they sort of heavily packed the end of the book with information and exposition that probably should have come a bit earlier. Hopefully we’ll see a bit more character development, too. I liked the characters – from Miki to her friend Carly and to the other team mates we got to see sporadically in the game. But a lot of them deserved a bit more screen time and development. And a lot of the relationships seemed a bit flat. Really the only one that got any real traction was Miki and Carly’s and, well. Carly isn’t nearly as important in the grander scheme of things – at least not now. I have my suspicions that Carly might be something other than she seems…
But I won’t spoil the book with my hypotheses!
I really liked Rush and I think the idea of teenagers being pulled into a war with aliens in a video game styled way is pretty cool. I’m a gamer. I can dig it. I like that video games, gamers, and just the culture in general are getting a lot more notice these days. We’ve had a lot of really great books come out about video games and gaming. Rush manages to be one of them without really being a video game book per se. It’s a nice addition to the budding genre. And the book will keep you on edge waiting throughout all of the ‘down time’ for the next time Miki and her friends find themselves ripped out of their real lives by some unseen force. The action keeps you interested and keeps you waiting more.
Check out Rush now and keep an eye out for Push in 2014.