In the not too distant future, after the huge successes of role playing games and virtual worlds such as The Sims, Second Life, and reality shows such as Big Brother, it was only a matter of time before somebody took the next step. A remote island. An android population existing only to entertain. Their lives broadcast around the clock and around the globe. Their actions dictated by their owners. It’s the world’s biggest game played by thousands. Welcome to Gameworld. Dean 3012 is a good guy living on the Island. He loves his girlfriend, Lily, and with their first baby on the way, life is perfect. But when things take a sinister turn, the couple is plunged into a world of darkness and despair. Dean must take control and fight for all their lives.
Automation is about a virtual world called Gameworld. It takes place on a remote island, where an android population exists to entertain. Their lives are broadcast 24/7 around the world and their actions are dictated by their owners. It’s highly expensive to buy a character, yet thousands of people are playing it. It is the biggest game in the world and everyone is watching.
The book concentrates on the island and the ‘real world’ where you get to meet the owners, the characters and the maker of the game. Dean and Lily are two characters who are together. They are in love and are expecting a baby together. They truly are a great couple, but Dean’s owner, whose own life is depressing him, has other plans for Dean, which doesn’t bode well with Amelia, who is Lily’s owner. Nope, not at all.
I really did like Amelia – the human gamer- at the beginning. She had grown up with her Character Lily from a young age and she simply loved her, thinking of her more as a best friend or sister, than a character. But then she become obsessed and in my opinion, a little bit psycho over Lily and her boyfriend, Dean, and what the gamer of Dean’s character was doing to the couple and to Lily’s feelings. She hates to witness Dean’s actions on her screen and feels anger towards Dean’s owner, wondering why he would try to destroy the couple.
Dean’s owner, Luke is a lawyer, currently trying to get a murderer off his charge. The only thing that he looks forward to is Gameworld when he comes home from work. But because his life is depressing, he feels that Dean should be a bit naughty in the game. Amelia doesn’t like this one bit and tracks down Luke. You really have to read the book to find out what happens between these two, but my god, it is clear to see how out of touch the owners become and how involved they are with the game they would do anything to see their characters happy. They literally immerse their own lives into the game. Which is completely unhealthy on so many levels.
Throughout the book, I actually felt that Lily and Dean were more than characters. It was easy to forget they were entertainment and a game and easy to believe they were human and not in a show such as The Truman show with all the mics and cameras in the game. They lived a normal life, apart from when their owners intruded and made them do things, but other than that, they literally had no idea they were a game. They actually though that was how they were meant to be living; with all these rules and regulations and ‘evil demons’ making them feel and do things they knew was wrong, yet they couldn’t be stopped.
I really felt for Dean and Lily. I just wanted everyone to stop meddling in their relationship. It certainly got to a point, near the end, where the heartbreak Dean felt was awful to read. What Amelia did was so horrible and then what Dean did…Dear god, you can see how easy it would to become too involved in a game such as this one. It really is terrifying to think that this game or one like it could happen in the future and how captivated we, as a nation, could become to it.
This book really does highlight the obsessions of online gaming with virtual worlds and it did remind me of games such as The Sims and Second Life. Amelia’s obsession with the game is something that can be seen around the world with many gamers in today’s society. With people spending hours a day confined to their computers or games consoles, playing all the new games and making new ‘worlds’ where they can control the characters to do whatever they want.
Cheryl Davies’ writing style flowed with ease. I was drawn in on every single page, desperate to know what was going to happen to each character, both real and in android form. The story is well written and captivated me. I started reading today and finished it a couple of hours ago. When I read a book that completely draws me in, I have this urge to finish it so I know how it ends. It becomes too hard to put the book down and when I spent 4 hours in work today, all I could think about was reading this book and continuing the story. There really are twists in this story that will have you shocked and the one that really did shock me was near the end with Dean and Lily. I’m not going to say what happens as I don’t want to spoil it, but you really need to read this book. Much like the Awaken series by Katie Kacvinsky, this scenario could very well happen someday in the future.
I definitely recommend this book. It will really get you thinking.