#WELCOME TO EPIC: PRESS START TO PLAY#.
On New Earth, Epic is not just a computer game, it's a matter of life and death. If you lose, you lose everything; if you win, the world is yours for the taking.
Seeking revenge for the unjust treatment of his parents, Erik subverts the rules of the game, and he and his friends are drawn into a world of power-hungry, dangerous players. Now they must fight the ultimate masters of the game -- The Committee. But what Erik doesn't know is that The Committee has a sinister, deadly secret, and challenging it could destroy the whole world of Epic.
Irish author Kostick's powerful debut imagines an agrarian world where violence is illegal, except within a massive computer game that provides the economic and governmental structure for society. When they're not working in the salt mines of New Earth, everyone spends their time in the online game, Epic, accumulating resources and completing quests. Erik is frustrated both with the game and with his father, Harald, who refuses to play. Harald does eventually appear in the arena to demand more solar panels for his community, but his appearance unearths a secret in his past, and he is sent into exile. Erik finds a loophole that allows him to defeat a red dragon, making him one of the wealthiest players in the game; suddenly he is a threat to Central Allocations, a team of powerful players that are the world's de facto rulers, even though they do not fully understand the system they are manipulating. As the game becomes self-aware, there are whispers of a revolution among those who would use the game's technology for conversations and elections rather than endless fighting. Kostick manages to aim his allegory at two separate targets: the pointless wastefulness of a government too big to correct its course or even know its true nature, and, on a slightly more trivial note, the waste of time gamers spend in their online second lives. The elegant conclusion will linger with readers. Ages 12-up.