Erebos (Ursula Poznanski)

Erebos is a young adult novel by Ursula Poznanksi. [Links in German.]

Plot:
In Nick’s school a mysterious computer game makes the rounds. Only certain people are invited and once you’re in, you are not allowed to talk to anybody about it. And the game doesn’t limit itself to the virtual world, either. As Nick finds out when he finally gets his entrance into Erebos, there are certain things he has to do in real life to advance in the game. But what is the game’s final agenda?

I stumbled on Erebos quite by coincidence and figured that I just had to read a scifi novel by a female Austrian author, even though I didn’t have high hopes that it would be very good – Austria is not exactly known for its strong scifi tradition. But I was pleasantly surprised by the book. It was entertaining, well-paced and fun to read.

erebos

I read very little in German. Usually because the more interesting things are written in English anyway (especially when it comes to genre literature), but another factor is that I’m just a little more allergic to bad writing in German than to bad writing in English. Comes with it being my mother tongue I guess. And bad writing is just so prevalent. Anyway, the writing in Erebos, despite a few bumpy bits, wasn’t bad at all.

In fact, Poznanski has an excellent sense of pacing and a very fluid style that makes you fly through the story – pretty much the ideal style for a young adult novel (I also found out that the book is apparently read in some schools in Austria – I can see why). The only parts that didn’t fit so well were the few moments where the narrative perspective shifts to Erebos itself. But they were short and didn’t disturb much.

I also liked that it didn’t actually came down to a “video games are so dangerous, don’t play them” rhetoric. There’s way too much of that around anyway. And I generally liked the characters and I didn’t really guess the ending in advance, so that’s pretty cool. I did wonder though about the general lack of technology these kids use. The book is not that old, but nobody uses facebook, the kids actually still call each other and text very little and, apart from DeviantArt, there’s no mentioning of social media sites (if you wanna classify DA as social media).

The only thing that I found really disappointing about it, was that it was set in London. Why not have the setting be Vienna? Not because Austrians should only write Austrian settings but because I see it as a symptom: we get so much more stories in our day-to-day culture that come from and are set in the USA or the UK that we can’t really picture these stories right here anymore. But I do believe that where a story is set influences how it goes down and how it is seen, so by setting all the stories in the same places, we’re losing diversity in these stories. And that’s why I wanted this book to be set in Vienna and not London.

But that’s more an overall point than a point that the book is really to fault for. And I really did have fun reading it.

Summarizing: Go for it, it’s fun.

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