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3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,499 ratings  ·  353 reviews
When Russell joins Black Arts games, brainchild of two visionary designers who were once his closest friends, he reunites with an eccentric crew of nerds hacking the frontiers of both technology and entertainment. In part, he's finally given up chasing the conventional path that has always seemed just out of reach. But mostly, he needs to know what happened to Simon, his s...more
Hardcover, 383 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Mulholland Books (first published 2013)
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Ready Player One by Ernest ClineMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin SloanYou by Austin GrossmanThe Eyre Affair by Jasper FfordeRedshirts by John Scalzi
Nerdventure
3rd out of 45 books — 65 voters
Ready Player One by Ernest ClineSnow Crash by Neal StephensonDaemon by Daniel SuarezThe Terminal Connection by Dan NeedlesReamde by Neal Stephenson
Books About Video Games and Virtual Reality
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Lilian
After five pages, I already had a bad feeling about You (this title makes anything taken out of context sound rude or ungrammatical.) But because I thought it was impossible to make video games boring and unfinished books haunt me, so I decided to keep reading, hoping for some miracle to make this novel bearable. That didn't happen.

You was SO BORING (thanks to the title, I now sound like a toddler). Not even in a rage inducing way so that I can at least laugh about it, but in an incredibly bland...more
Myke Cole
I doubt Mr. Grossman is thrilled to be constantly compared to Ernie Cline's READY PLAYER ONE. Well, he can rest easy here. The two books are night and day, matched only in their root: the cultural debt we owe to video games. YOU is partly a history of game design, partly a crash course in game mechanics, partly a coming of age story, partly a piece of sprawling magical realism. Grossman has done something truly unique here: he has captured the experience of growing up in the 70's-80's in as much...more
Kris
I've seen this compared to Ready Player One in quite a few places, but having read both of them, I ask...why? Because they both deal with video games in some way? It's really wrong-headed, because the two books don't really have a lot in common. One is a science fiction action/adventure, the other is more a contemporary bildungsroman. I suppose if you read Ready Player One hoping for some kind of treatise on the experience of playing a video game and the connection formed between game and player...more
Louise
An account of making video games at a fictional video game company. This sounds right up my alley, right? Unfortunately, it fell short of my high expectations. The writing is noticeably sloppy at times, like when the narrator somehow knows everything another character is thinking, feeling, and seeing. Then it jumps to second person perspective for no good reason. Then there's a whole lot of telling, not showing.

This isn't the 80s face-explosion that Ready Player One is, but it does have numerous...more
Ben Babcock
I missed my Xbox while I was in England. I had access to one for the first half the year, during which time I managed to be completely disappointed by Assassin’s Creed 3. Then I moved, and Xbox-playing became a faded memory for a while. So when I came back home for the summer, one of the first things I sat down to do was play Xbox—and specifically, to play Mass Effect through from the beginning. I love this game series beyond all reason. Getting to be Commander Shepard—and not just anyone’s Comm...more
Brendon Schrodinger
The one star rating is an average for the whole novel as it started at 4 stars and ended at -1 star. Well ended might be going to far as I reached a point where I could no longer stomach the tripe that this author was spooning out.

Firstly this novel was hyped as the new "Ready Player One". No.

I liken this novel more to Coupland's "Microserfs" in that it is the story of nerdy professionals working in thetechnological industry. Microserfs was innovative for it's time and quite enetertaining and f...more
Mike Etzkorn
You surprised me.

I don't mean that it surprised me in that it was better or worse than I expected; I loved Soon I Will Be Invincible and the buzz around the book gave me the impression that it would be a good read. Austin Grossman's You surprised me because it didn't take the easy roads, the handy exits, the convenient turns that you would expect. It asked hard questions of its characters, and I like to think that the protagonist Russell, faced with an ugly truth about the sort of man he had bee...more
Sarah
Very readable, but I'm not the target audience. If you are in your thirties or forties and spent a whole lot more time than I did playing video games, I'm pretty sure this will speak to you. I did play a fair number of games, but I got frustrated and didn't finish them. I liked puzzles but not fighting. (My sister, on the other hand, played through Bard's Tale on our Apple IIGS without any regard to plot. She battled and battled until her character was so powerful she could just look at a horde...more
Nayad Monroe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike
Austin Grossman’s You has drawn some comparisons to Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One from many venues but is a very different beast in many respects. While both lean on the nostalgia factor of readers You trades the frenetic action and bright palate for a more subdued story that occasionally stumbles but manages on the whole to be an engaging and entertaining read. Where Ready Player One is an open love letter to the 80s, You is a paen to a lost age an exploration on how the heart of an industry...more
Matt
This was a hard one to rate. 4 seems too much, but 3 seems too little. 3.5 sounds about right, but since i can't rate with half stars i gave it a 4 (because I liked it enough to round up).

The story was interesting to read, but the author tended to go off on nostalgic tangents (a lot toward the beginning of the book) and sometimes would stop in the story to describe computer game stuff not really relevant to the story itself though i guess it was just giving some background information on what wa...more
Kaila
So, I haven't read Ready Player One, which just about everybody seems to compare this to. Austin Grossman has a really interesting Wikipedia page, where I learned he has been involved in such industry gems as Deus Ex, Thief: Deadly Shadows, and Dishonored. He's also been involved in the amazingly bad Jurassic Park: Trespasser (highly recommend the Let's Play) and the game that killed the Tomb Raider franchise, Tomb Raider: Legend. AND it told me that not only does he share a last name with Lev G...more
Ryandake
a fun and idiosyncratic ride through the videogame world.

let me say upfront that i think non-gamers will probably find this dull as dust. but if you've found yourself clutching your controller (or hammering your keypad) at 2am when you really should be doing something else, this book might be for you.

the author writes with a clear fan-boy love of videogames, of their development history, of the stories they sort-of tell. he takes us on a ride through the lives of four game developers who've know...more
cuifen
Apr 26, 2013 cuifen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
This was really a very hard book to rate. Never have I wished harder for half stars. Or even 0.75 stars (this would be 3.75).

It's hard because it's so patchy. The book gets off to a flying start, with a likeable cast of misfit characters and a setting and plot that speaks right to the heart of every gamer out there ever. It soars to a wonderful climax and conclusion, making some really thought-provoking, insightful points about gaming, the self, the other, and the relationship between gamers and...more
Zac
+ 2 well done sequences that were very engaging.(E3 and a video game tournament)
+ Some interesting ideas and use of structure(jumping back in time in conjunction with the present narrative)
+ Page turner in the good way when at its best(Probably around 40-60% through)

- About 80% through had lost all steam. There are parts where the author is just popping off pages and pages of history of a video game that does not exist. I was doing the Kindle equivalent of fast forwarding through these seque...more
Michael Scott
You is a coming-of-age book, described from the eyes of a boy in his thirties. However, this book is much more about the gaming industry: how games are produced, designed, developed, demoed, and advertised to millions. Overall, it was long and childish, but well-documented and interesting. Your choice, but there's also Ready Player One, Microserfs (but not other Douglas Coupland books), Gamers at Work, Reality is Broken, and Richard Bartle.

I don't think this book is about its story. This is why,...more
Nickolas
REVIEW SUMMARY: Provides an interesting look behind the scenes of video game development, not such a strong story.

MY RATING: 2 stars

SYNOPSIS: After years of drifting through post-college life Russell joins Black Arts, a video game developer founded by friends of his from high school. He is unexpectedly thrust into a leadership role and forced to solve the mystery behind a bug that could ruin the new game and have more far-reaching consequences besides...

PROS: Written by someone with experience i...more
Julie
I was a huge fan of Austin Grossman's first novel, Soon I Will Be Invincible, and have been jittering around waiting for some sort of followup in the 4 years since -- so all I can say is finally, and that he doesn't disappoint with this. What he did for superheroes then, he does for video games now.

Basic premise: the main character, Russell, is a former nerd who tried to abandon his geeky origins, only to end up a general failure at life -- he then comes trudging back to his high school friends'...more
Stefan
In the end, I’m going to sum it up this way: You is a good novel, but its subject matter, and the way it approaches its subject matter, may turn it from “good” to “great” or even “life-changing” for you. Conversely, those aspects may also flip it into the “bad” or even “unreadable” columns for you.

Personally, I loved it. I have a list of friends who will probably get annoyed at my vigorous recommendations to read it. With some of them, I’ll keep sending those recommendations their way until they...more
Joel
Oh man, this was so good. Especially considering how frustrating and unfinished I thought Soon I Will Be Invincible was, You really blew my hair back. It's the book I wanted Ready Player One to be, really--same epic scope, same tasty retrostalgia (this is a portmanteau I just made), but a deeper look at what really interests us in video games. I'm particularly impressed at the technical narrative risks Grossman was willing to take. I'm guessing the target audience for You, as for Ready Player On...more
Matt
We of a certain age (When did we get this old?) grew up with video games. That is, we (more or less) matured with the medium. We were gamers before video games were mainstream. Sure, the jocks played Nintendo, too, but we were the ones who emerged, dazed, from our parents' basements after a marathon session, pale and hollow-eyed, squinting at that damned bright orb in the sky. We had worlds to explore. World to conquer. Why waste time chasing a ball?

Austin Grossman beautifully captures the role...more
Shaun
You by Austin Grossman:

This book is so ridiculously niche, it could never have been published before now. We live in a world of the ridiculously niche, where something as specific as "Frat dudes who love My Little Pony" have their own conventions and documentaries. You by Austin Grossman is my Brony.

You is very vaguely a science fiction book about video games. It's not really science fiction at all, just fictionalized. It follows a failed law student , Russell, returning to his home town to beg...more
Anna Janelle
While both books center around the immersive virtual realities of video games, Ready Player One this book is not. Sorry folks. I loved Ready Player One - LOVED it. And I struggled to love this one just as much. I mean, the author worked on EPIC MICKEY. What more needs to be said for his impressive credentials - not to mention his hardcore gamer street-cred. (Side note: If it seems I'm mocking Epic Mickey, I'm not. I own it for the Wii. Played it. Loved it. Never beat it. And...now I'm thinking o...more
Pamela
Nov 09, 2012 Pamela added it
Like Lev Grossman's The Magicians meets Ready Player One.
G. Adams
This doesn't quite earn the fifth star, but I'm going to award it anyway for pure soul. Sometimes an artist can mash their way into something grand, something beyond their skill level, like a journeyman saxophone stumbling into a killer riff. [I can identify, it's what I tell myself when I'm writing.]

I loved this book. It's 10x smarter than 'Ready Player One' and has actual characters instead of vague cutouts. It truly evokes the wonder and pain of video games and their creation, all while makin...more
Bonnie
I know the old adage is "write what you know" and Grossman is a video game design consultant. But this book is more like if John Grisham promised one of his legal thrillers and instead 60% of the book was about writing memos and researching cases and sitting in meetings – you know, what it’s actually like to do a job, which, guess what? NO ONE WANTS TO READ ABOUT. Bring on the conspiracies and dead bodies and secrets instead!

This book sounded like another Ready Player One. It is not. At all. Acc...more
Liam
Probably more like 3.5, but damned if that matters. It's a sentimental book that bets heavily on a shared aesthetic or cultural capital with the reader; Lev Grossman did this with an indulgent dungeon crawl in the last act of his otherwise-pretty-great 'The Magicians,' and Austin does it here with a novel in which not a hell of a lot really happens, beyond the hyper-literate narrator having a late-20s crisis and figuring out that video games are kind of great, you guys. Much of this thing feels...more
Nicholas Karpuk
From the other reviews I've read, I've noticed that a lot of people instantly compare this book to Ready Player One, which is a bit knee-jerk in my opinion. They're really only similar in a few ways:

1. Both are very deeply associated with video games.

2. Both involve a quest for a secret easter-egg-type object. (One basically gives the finder a fortune, the other use a super-malicious game bug.)

3. Both with bore/annoy/confuse you if you don't care about video games at least a little.

The similari...more
April Franklin
I really debated between two and three stars. It wasn't awful, but I was kind of disappointed. The reviews talked about it blurring the lines between reality and the game, and while it kind of did, I was expecting something more like Scott Pilgrim, which was just plain fun. Instead, this was very mopey and angsty. All the parts that blurred the game/reality line were sort of melancholy. But the story was still an interesting concept and a neat look into game development in the late 80s-90s. In t...more
Ashley
I really, really wanted to love this book. Like, I sat and stared lovingly at it for an embarassing amount of time, letting my hopes and dreams and fears wash over it in imaginary caresses. I mean, just look at that cover. It's a cover that just begs for you to love it. In fact, I partially blame that cover for what came next (the rest of the blame goes to Austin Grossman and his publisher). Ever since I read Ready Player One last year, my desire for what I'm going to call 'nerd fiction' has inc...more
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Austin Grossman graduated from Harvard University in 1991 with a plan to write the great American novel; instead he became a video game designer at Looking Glass Studios.

He has since contributed as a writer and designer to a number of critically acclaimed video games, such as ULTIMA UNDERWORLD II, SYSTEM SHOCK, DEUS EX, and TOMB RAIDER: LEGEND, and has taught and lectured on narrative in video gam...more
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“The woman was simply leaving us alone with our future, the future she wouldn't be a part of. She didn't know how to do it or what it was, but she was trying to give it to us.” 2 likes
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