Review: Gamers, Frags and Coders, Gamers Series 1-3 by Thomas K. Carpenter
In full disclosure I won the second book in this series (Frags) in a Goodreads giveaway.
Book One Gamers
Book Synopsis: Life is a game, no REALLY it is. The concept of this book is
fascinating; everyone is constantly plugged into a computer game known
as LifeGames. You can earn points by doing chores, playing computer
games that have been designed to give you life skills or by doing well
in tests at school. Points can be used to purchase the latest fashions
or designing your home. Only the top scoring gamers get to go on to
university and the best jobs, everyone else gets reassigned. It reminded
me somewhat of what life would be like to be in “The Sims”. The story
soon starts to unfold and a government conspiracy is discovered. The
last part of the book has the characters running around inside a
computer game on an adventure where they have to battle against giants,
specters and a dragon and solve puzzles in order to complete their
quest, now that’s a final exam I would have loved to have participated
Richi's Review: There is a huge amount of world building in this book especially at the
start. The first part of the book there was so much world building going
on that I was just getting my head around one concept when another one
was introduced, it settles down after a while and gets on with the
story. I did enjoy all the world building, it just seemed so crammed
together at the start it could get confusing.
It was fun to see references to some
classic games such as Mario, Monkey Island and Leisure Suit Larry.
the story itself was confusing, mostly it was due to the world
language, they have a number of words that the use that aren’t used in
the real world. But some sequences were just not well written and hard
The main character is very well written, she’s your
typical YA heroine. Strong willed, talented, kind to her friends but
fierce to her enemies. The other characters are good as well, with their
own personalities, although most of them only appeared in small parts
of the book and didn’t really get much time to be developed before they
left the story and a new group of characters came in.
Book Two Frags
**** ½ stars
Book Synopsis: Book two picks up a short time after the end of the
first book. Gabby has fled the GSA and joined up with the Frags along
with her new friend Mouse. Gabby is determined to find out what happens
to those that fail LifeGame, which will allow her to rescue her best
friend Zaela. Gabby, Mouse and the Frags hatch a plan to escape from the
lands controlled by the GSA and into an area know as the Freelands, a
place made up of many groups who live life free from LifeGame. The group
soon discovers that not everyone is friendly in the Freelands and they
have to deal with a terrifying religious group that controls its members
minds, the dreaded Blood Farm where anyone passing through must pay a
Blood Toll, and the all too familiar Game Train where winning games is
the only way off. All the while they are pursued by the Coder and his
troops who will not allow Gabby and the Frags to escape them. Rumours of
the Southland planning on attacking the GSA begin to rise and war seems
inevitable, unfortunately the answers to Gabby’s questions seem to lay
in that direction.
Richi's Review: We learn a lot more about the world in this
book, most of it about what happens in the Freelands and how the
computer systems work throughout the world as a whole. The balance
between world building, story and character development is much better
in this book and isn’t as crammed as it was in book one.
The writing style is stronger in this book and it
was less confusing than book one. Partly because I have become more
used to the worlds language and rules, but also because the descriptions
are clearer. There was an overuse of simile in the first few chapters
including the bizarre “Gabby had come to despise the hovercraft with
guns hanging like dogs in heat.” But the rest of the book has a much
better limited use of it.
Gabby is great again and her
personality is strong and enjoyable. She undergoes quite a development
during this book, mostly centered around the fact she becomes a very
reluctant leader of the group. The Frags characters are also expanded on
during this book and we get to learn a lot more about all of them. They
are all are enjoyable to read about Michael who is Gabby’s love
interest, the simple-minded but powerful Drogan, Milton with his smart
ass comments, the quiet but clever Mouse and the mysterious Celia.
Drogan is probably my favourite of the secondary characters despite
being having a childish mind his strong personality and good nature
The balance between adventure in the real world and the various virtual ones is perfect and cleverly done.
There are several twists at the end of the book; this is excellent as it is unlikely a reader will fully guess all of them.
Book Three Coders
Richis: Review: There is a mix of real life sequences
and computer game scenes although the balance isn't as good as the
previous books, as the computer game part is just in a big chuck in the
middle of the book. It isn't badly written just all in one go.
world is developed and we learn a lot about the Southlands and a little
more about the GSA. One of the nice things about this book is that both
groups look pretty bad and it is hard to pick a side who you want to
The characters are great, Gabby character develops and she
gets better. One of the great things about her is that she is not your
typical rebel teen trying to overthrow an evil regime, she is just a kid
who wants to find her lost friend and keep her friends alive. Michael
is getting sicker and weaker and you can feel Gabbys heartache to see
him this way. Mouse is still smart but quiet, she seems to have
developed a relationship with Michael while Gabby has been away, and
Gabby is torn between renewing her relationship with Michael and letting
him be happy. Milton has mellowed somewhat since getting his new body,
but still has plenty of smart ass comments to make. I was sad that
Drogan wasn't in this book much as he was one of my favourite
characters, Celia also has a very small role.
The writing style
is just as good as the second book, the descriptions are clear and it is
easy to follow what is happening, although a couple of computer scenes
that have crazy physics things going on were a little confusing. The
balance between world building, story and character development is
There are a number of twists near the end of the book
again, this is great because even if you guess some of them there are
still somethings that you didn't see coming.
Overall Review: I really enjoyed this series, the story and plot is strong and the characters are excellent and undergo an interesting development. The idea is very original and presented well. A good understanding of computer games and systems probably helps understand this book but isn't esential. I would recomend getting and reading all three books at once because the storyline continues through all three heavily and the first two books end in cliff hangers.
I read the Nook versions for books one and three, and there were a couple of problems with it.
Firstly the page count was messed up, whenever I turned a page the page
number went up 2-4 pages, it wasn’t skipping pages, but the count was
not correct. Also the index doesn’t recognize the chapters so you
couldn’t find them easily or know how many pages were left in a chapter.
An excellent and original series that is suitable for fans of fantasy, science-fiction and/or dystopian novels.