Blind Gambit: A GameLit novel
Print Length: 275 pages
Publisher: No World Press (May 5, 2018)
Publication Date: May 5, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton
On one hand, Jon Cronshaw is a younger author than I am and he's far more familiar with the world of gaming than I will ever be. So if you too are into video games and "game lit," than you're a prime target reader for Blind Gambit.
From a different perspective, I too carry the retinitis pigmentosa gene that results in blindness just like the main character of Brian in Cronshaw's novel. So does the author himself. While I was older and no longer living at home when the onset kicked in for me, from the very beginning of the story, I recognized many events in Brian's personal life as well as many of his reactions to what is happening to him as his sight erodes in the physical world. I remember so many events and conversations in my life that mirrors what Brian goes through as he tries to maintain independence, downplay his disability as much as he can, and find the ways to interact with friends and family as his personal identity changes during the process of going blind. As he admits in his afterword, much of the book can be called a fictionalized memoir.
In fact, we have two themes traveling on parallel lines through the book. One is in virtual reality where Brian can see what's going on in the game of Gambit because he has a chip that allows his avatar, Neuro, to watch what his three teammates, FragQueen, Harley, and Socko are doing on the battlefields against zombies while he proves to be the worst sniper in game world. At the same time, a hacker is going through Gambit destroying every team and game he, she, or it can for unknown reasons. Brian, however, is immune to the hacker's weapons due to that chip. So, on the outside, he's being trained in independent living and how to have a relationship with a girl. A real one. In VR, he is trained in how to combat the hacker by learning strategy, create unique weapons out of ordinary items, and learn how to uncover the hacker's true identity.
I admit, for a long time I wondered why I should care about the destruction of virtual avatars. Not exactly the sort of carnage living beings should worry about. So are there any consequences of the hacker's killing spree in the real world beyond headaches players suffer after leaving the game? At the same time, when Brian isn't hooked up to VR, his often over protective mother talks him into working with blind support groups so he can learn how to live with his disability. Stubborn and resisting most such efforts, Brian isn't a quick study in any of his quests. In the real world, he ends up being bruised and wounded as he tries out a number of activities other blind folks can do. Along the way,
Without question, the primary readership for Blind Gambit will be YA readers who are into gaming. But I really hope a wider audience will include those who might gain some sensitivity and insight not just regarding the disability of blindness, but some understanding of the emotional turmoils the disabled go through as, in this case, we lose the sense of sight.
As with pretty much every e-book published these days, readers can find out more about Jon Cronshaw's worlds by reading his afterword and signing up for his newsletter. The adventures don't have to end when you finish Blind Gambit.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on July 1, 2019: