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Cure for the Common Universe

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Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . .

ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.

Jaxon's first date. Ever.

In rehab, he can't blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can't slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he'll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.

If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother's absence, and maybe admit that it's more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.

Prepare to be cured.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published June 14, 2016

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Christian McKay Heidicker

9 books216 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 258 reviews
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,205 followers
September 27, 2019
4 stars

“Just because something goes wrong in your life doesn't mean you get to become the wrong in everyone else's”

This is what I call a fun easy read. Since I am a addicted video gamer, this was amazing.

Jaxon is one of the best characters I have ever read about. I relate so much to him.

Such a quirky book with a light story and lovely characters.

Jaxon is a full time gamer. He ignores everything else. Everyone else.
He meets a girl. He likes her. He wants to impress her. He doesn't know how.
He has problems. He should get his life back in track. But to do so, he has to leave some things behind, like gaming. Will he?

“When your insides are like skinned knees and curdled milk, you gotta learn how to feel better all by your lonesome, without pills or games or anything like that, or else those bad feelings will just keep coming back.”

Was it worth reading? - Heck yes.
Will I read it again? - Likely so.
Would I recommend it? - Of course. Especially if you are a gamer.
Profile Image for Noah Nichols.
Author 3 books112 followers
December 27, 2017
The rehab facility was a windowless, cream-gray box of a building, nestled among dunes that stretched to the horizon. It looked as lonely as a LEGO lost in an infinite sandbox.

Pretty much everything about this book was a lot of fun. For me, the plot was immensely entertaining. I loved Jaxon (known as Miles Prower in V-hab) throughout his perilous journey, even when he was overly self-conscious about his man boobs. I liked all of the perimeter characters as well. Soup was a standout. He was just so pathetic...yet sympathetic in a big way. I felt like author Christian McKay Heidicker hit each unique personality spot-on.

The video game references within this novel are plentiful while purposeful, but if you're not into that sort of thing, it's quite all right. It's not a turnoff for the uninitiated non-gamer; it's mostly kept to the sideline of the main story. And it's fascinating to see Jaxon/Miles gush over Serena/Gravity, although he only had a random car wash encounter to go on for the longest time. However, unlike other readers, I found his newfound obsession to be completely realistic. 'Specially for a celldweller like him. Even a mildly attractive girl would've swayed his brain into reaping thoughts of a Notebook-like romance. It's a part of growing up. You lust, then rust.

I began to realize how beautiful she was—smooth pale skin, glossy black braids, lips like bouncy castles that I just wanted to leap onto.

Typing to all of you now as a thirty-four-year old male, I proudly admit to loving the plethora of game callbacks in Cure for the Common Universe. From Bioshock to Super Monkey Ball and everything in between, this novel has several smartly-placed nods to classic video games. Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how well online addiction was handled. This was an unflinching look into the lives of semi-bloated, socially-inept kids—male and female—the kind of kids who'd rather stay inside and navigate a fantasy land than go outside to explore the realm of reality.

So I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. As I said earlier, there were some great characters on the perimeter of the MC. Fezzik and his metaphors were awesome, Meeki and her bitchiness were an awesome deterrent to Jaxon's dazed determination, and Zxzord was an enigmatic side road to the overall highway...one that I did want to travel on a little more, but was happy with what I got. Was he actually on heroin, though?

Cure for the Common Universe is a well-written, well-realized, well-distributed tale. It does a terrific job of showing how easy it is for a clueless teenager to fawn over fairy tales while doing an even better job at funneling real-life frustrations and struggles into the young life of Jaxon. Two joystick-calloused thumbs up for having the guts—and the bright imagination—to tackle issues of teen alienation in a quirky (but respectfully serious) approach.

You know what this enlightening, funny book gets from me? LOOT. POINTS. XP. All of that!

As a gamer, I had gazed on breathtaking skies—Skyrim with its endless constellations, WoW with its smoldering horizons, Halo with its galactic ring. But I'd never seen the real sky look like this. Out in the desert, beyond the streetlamps, porch lights, headlights, and computer screens, the stars could throw their light all the way to Earth. Thousands glimmered in the crisp, dry air, and the sand dunes bowed before them, blue with reverence.

Above is just a perfect example of what this story brilliantly conveys: a desperate teen slowly beginning to appreciate an actual atmosphere in the real world, losing his previously undying loyalty over time to the fake worlds made of polygonal escapism.

Ideal length, ideal pace, ideal resolution. I have no complaints to document here and I am happy to say that this was my first book read in 2017. And it'll probably rank as one of the very best at year's end.

UPDATE: The year of 2017 is rapidly closing down now, and this fic is still at the tippy top for me. Loved the book and highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Brooks Benjamin.
Author 1 book151 followers
December 20, 2015
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

There are books out there for everyone. Occasionally you'll get a book that you like or even love. But even less occasionally you'll pick up a book that you feel the author has written for you. Christian's Cure for the Common Universe would be that book for me.

Let's go through the items that, before I read this book, were in my head under the title of Things I'd Love Combined Into a Book One Day ™.

1) Humor.
2) Romance.
3) Strong women characters.
4) A coming of age story.
5) Video games.
6) More humor.
7) Group of unlikely friends.
8) References every other video game not included in the book already.
9) Even more humor.
10) An Oregon Trail joke.

So how did this book measure up?

10/10 would read again.

And I would. Because Christian has somehow uploaded himself to my brain, found that list, and transferred it to his book. It's funny, but waxes philosophical. It alludes to every great video game ever developed, but doesn't shy away from current problems in the gaming community (read: sexism). It dives into the typical YA romance, but happily lets that subplot take an arrow to the knee.

It's got everything I wanted. And that's why this book is undeniably for me.

But I suppose I can share.
Profile Image for Cassi.
672 reviews50 followers
June 16, 2016
I really wanted to like this book. It has all the trappings of the YA contemporaries that I love but unfortunately it did not work for me.

One of the reasons this one didn't work for me is the fact that I never connected with the main character. Now you are not supposed to like Jaxon/Miles. He is a self-centered jerk who frankly treats people like crap. That's kind of the point here. He's not the lovable nerd that we are used to And while liking unlikable characters is nothing new for me, that concept didn't work here for me. For most of the book I was actively rooting against the character. I wanted him to fail and be brought down a peg. But that didn't really happen for me.

And while not enjoying the character isn't necessarily a deal breaker, the character development is kind of important when it comes to a coming-of-age story like this one. The majority of the plot here is about Jaxon/Miles' development and him getting over his addiction to video games and addressing the root cause as to why he needs them to cope. That sounds like a great story. And it would have been if that happened. But instead everything went the character's way and he never really learned anything. Even when it looked like there were challenges it quickly righted itself into his favor. And honestly for me, it got a little frustrating by the end. It just didn't feel like a full-realized coming-of-age story.

But one thing I did like about this book were the secondary characters. Everyone else at v-hab was fantastic especially the members of the guild. Their guild leader Fezzik was supportive plus really funny, Meeki was a kickass female character who said exactly what I was thinking, Aurora was a kind and caring, and then there was Soup who is the most precious of all cinnamon rolls. These were the characters I connected with and wanted to succeed. There were also some good antagonist with other guilds and the people who worked at v-hab. To be honest this book may have benefited from some multiple perspectives and given us someone to root for as an MC.

The other decent thing about this book is that it's fast-paced and had some good moments of action. When this book was at it's best it was during the less introspective moments. The competitions, the challenges, the times where you wanted the guild to succeed if not for Jaxon/Miles than for the other members. Not to mention that it's a quick read. It's something that you can get through in a few days which was nice.

On the whole, I just think that Cure for the Common Universe wasn't for me. I have seen a lot of really great reviews for it but the characterization really impacted my enjoyment of this coming-of-age story. If you like very different contemporaries that play with the tropes and/or books about unlikable characters then check this out.
Profile Image for Sarah Ahiers.
Author 3 books374 followers
December 23, 2015
I LOVED this book!

Okay, I mean, I suspected I would. I'm a gamer. And this is a book about a gamer, so already I'm in. And the book did not disappoint.

Jaxon is a gamer. His specialty is the world of Arcadia (similar to WoW or Guild Wars) in which he is his clan's tank. His clan is so good, in fact, that Jaxon spends all his time playing, ignoring his dad and stepmother's entreaties to eat better, exercise, try to meet a girl.
Jaxon would love more than anything to meet a girl, of course. He knows if he does, his life will be everything it should be and he wouldn't need the game anymore.
And then it happens. On a quick errand for his dad, he meets her. The One. A girl who laughs at his jokes, and doesn't think he's too fat, and agrees to go to dinner with him.
And fifteen minutes later Jaxon's dad ships him off to video game rehab.
Shunted into the middle of the desert, Jaxon finds v-hab to be a real life video game, where attendees have to earn so many points doing real life things (eating healthy, studying, participating in sports, making friends, going to therapy) before they can be released.
Jaxon has 4 days before his date, so he sets out to game the system as only an experienced gamer can, to earn as many points as possible so he can get out on time. And he doesn't care who he has to use, or hurt, along the way.

Okay, this book. First off, it's clear Heidicker is a gamer. There are so many easter eggs of gamer goodness that I was laughing throughout. From cakes that are lies, to betrayals like Leroy Jenkins, I found myself utterly delighted at almost every page.

And v-hab is great. Honestly, I'm with the character Soup, who never wants to leave v-hab. It sounds awesome.

Jaxon (aka Miles Prower) is a difficult character. Difficult in a good, well-nuanced way. Because he's the main character, I fully wanted him to achieve his goals. And even though there were times when he was clearly an a-hole, especially to some characters who didn't deserve it (some totally did, though) I still rooted for him and wanted him to succeed.
But, really, Jaxon is not a nice guy, even though he truly thinks he is. And it's this growth Jaxon must go through. The ending is complicated and not necessarily wrapped up in a nice little bow, which I liked a lot, because it's very true to life, and because a nice little wrap up is more indicative of the story of a video game, and not the real life Jaxon is trying to find.

I read this as part of an arc tour in return for a fair review, but I'm definitely going to be buying a copy and recommending it to all my gamer friends.
Profile Image for Morris.
964 reviews160 followers
July 14, 2016
Rounded Up From 3 1/2 Stars

“Cure for the Common Universe” is a fun and fast-paced read with a premise and setting any gamer is bound to love.

Set in a video game rehab facility which uses a game system of points to allow the patients to be released, it almost seems like a fun place to be. That is unless you will miss your video games too much. I’m not going to lie, if I had to give up the gigantic time suck of Animal Crossing it would not be pretty. Someone has to weed my town, and it won’t be those lazy villagers.

Jaxon is the main character, and he is the perfect example of an unreliable narrator. It takes a couple of chapters to figure him out, but once you do it’s fun to revel in his delusions. The side characters are all quirky and interesting, while also having some depth that partially explains why they are addicts in the first place. And yes, they really are addicted to gaming. The nature of addiction is explored in an accessible way without feeling preachy, and I think that will resonate with a lot of young adult readers.

The plot is fast-paced and quite an easy read. The only reason I knocked off stars was the ending. It sort of jumped off of the track. However, it wasn’t so far off that it made the rest of the book unenjoyable.

“Cure for the Common Universe” is a particularly good book for reluctant readers who enjoy gaming. It’s also great for someone looking for a funny and light read that still packs a bit of a punch.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Johnny.
3 reviews1 follower
August 8, 2016
Recap: Jaxon (Miles) plays his favorite video game video game way too much; Miles' dad sends him to video game rehab (V-hab); Jaxon joins a group (guild) with 3.5 other nerds: Aurora, Meeki, Soup and a heroin addict; Miles' group counselor is a gentle, lonely giant named Fezzik who, when nervous, makes a Wookie sound; Miles wants to get out of V-hab as fast as possible.

So, when I heard this novel was about video game rehab, I assumed I was in for some light reading—obscure gaming references, perhaps futuristic conveyance technology and a moral compass that no character ever picked up for more than a few minutes. That was until I read this passage:

"Herodotus said that games were created so people wouldn't think about hunger. Perhaps video games were created to eliminate loneliness. They provide a reliable feeling you can return to again and again. They generate predictable relationships, dependable teams, and satisfying conclusions that are difficult to find in the real world. But these cozy digitally generated feelings can make us neglect our real relationships, isolating us even more. Today I want to ask you guys, what makes you feel lonely?" -Fezzik

Replace "video games" with "drugs" or "alcohol" and you've painted a pretty accurate picture of what real recovery looks like. I've been sober for just over 4 years now, and this passage sounds exactly like something you might hear in an AA meeting. Drug dependency is often created (and worsened) by loneliness and a lack of connection, leading to a retreat from one's own life: family relationships break down, work suffers—but worst of all, the overall potential being harnessed by the addict hovers at or below 10%. This is a painful place to live, and a painful cycle to break out of.

What I loved most about this novel, something I was quite surprised by actually, was how seriously CH takes the addiction. The nature of the premise easily lends itself to constant joke-making, whether it's an esoteric Final Fantasy reference or a scathing burn from one of our well-formed, pithy secondary characters. But CH never lets things feel too silly or comfortable—this is not a story about video games, this is a story about the causes and conditions that lead to escapism as a coping mechanism.

While CH's humor seems to have found a perfect home encased in this particular narrative, the scenes I remember most vividly, the moments that carried the most meaning for me, were when Miles is enduring emotional pain (read: growth) via the unresmorceful words of Fezzik, Meeki or Aurora or Gravity. The heart of the story really pumps blood when Miles is unable to overlook his own narcissism, selfishness and simplicity; these serious, sobering moments work well, and (to me) never felt contrived.

I rated this book 4 stars mostly because I can tell CH's next book is going to be even better, and I want to save some room for a star-related contextual compliment. My main critiques circled around pacing issues, a few moments where my typical suspension of disbelief was pulled far enough to remind me I was digesting fiction, some simple "telling instead of showing" when showing would have sufficed, and an overall wish that I could have liked Miles for one page of the book. It's hard to spend that much time with someone and kind of root against them at the same time. That said, CH's choice to do that only heightens the reality of Mile's journey.

We all change by degrees, the progress of which normally shows up as banal seeming decisions in banal seeming moments. Perhaps this is why CH chose the ending that he did. It seems small, Miles' decision not to divulge what happened with Gravity, but that choice infers the first substantial personality shift that we see in the whole book that isn't brought about by something material, something selfish. You know, for points.
Profile Image for Kim at Divergent Gryffindor.
470 reviews132 followers
June 5, 2016
I have one very big problem about this book, and it's the ending. Aside from that very big problem, however, I have no other complaints about this book. Cure for the Common Universe is such a unique and fun book to read, while showing us the main character's quest towards self-discovery.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Jaxon was committed to video game rehab by his dad for spending hours and hours playing video games, and there, Jaxon has to earn 1 million points to be released. Since Jaxon met this girl Serena right before he was committed, he would do anything in order to get that one million points in time for their date, which is in four days! Because Jaxon was focused on this goal, he pushed people, used them, and became incredibly selfish.

I really like the fact that this book was able to show how someone can be so selfish and yet never realize it. It shows that while being selfish, there may be people - like soup - to feed (no pun intended) that selfishness, making us not aware of it. People come off as trying to help, and that's just what they're doing, but it only makes people not realize that they're being selfish because it's offered to them. And what Jaxon did was just take and take, without even properly viewing Soup as a human being, or as an equal. Meeki gave him shit for being selfish, but Jaxon only viewed it as someone getting in his way.

This book shows that we can so blinded by our goals that we don't realize how self-centered we are becoming. It shows that we will hate the people who tell us the truth because we only think of ourselves as achieving our goals. It shows that there may be people who are so important but get pushed to the sidelines because we are so blinded by what we think is right. It shows that sometimes, achieving the goal is not the most important thing, but the journey that you took to get to it.

I really like how unique Cure for the Common Universe is. From introducing a fun video game rehab facility, to the amazing characters, to featuring a main character that you would just love to hate, I think the author did a magnificent job. Man, I would love to see this book as a movie! Just imagine seeng the video game rehab center! I think a lot of people would enjoy it too.

However, as I said in the beginning, my issue with this book is the ending. I felt like it didn't give justice to the story. I felt like it ended abruptly, and I felt like I was left hanging. There were still so many questions I had that were left unanswered, and I was just staring at the book in the end because I couldn't believe that that was already the ending. I need more!

Other than the ending, however, I don't have any other complaints about this book. It's an amazing book, and one I think everyone should read. It's a quick and easy read, it's also not heavy, but it carries along a strong message that everyone needs to hear. I really recommend this to everyone!
Profile Image for Rahul Kanakia.
Author 30 books194 followers
February 9, 2016
The first two thirds of this book are great fun: they're full of weird, but sharply-written, characters, and a really strange, but very relatable, quest. And, of course, lots of video game references.

But the last third of the book is where its heart lies. That's when the book does some really interesting, really bold things with its characterization. And by the time the book ends, you'll have a completely different outlook on what you've just read. In some ways, I'm jealous, since it treads ground that I wanted to write about myself. But I think that Christian has done a good job with its gamer protagonist and with the culture that he comes from. You feel his pain, but at the same time the book subtly interrogates the whole awkward heroic nerdboy trope, until you finally find yourself asking, hmm, why is he the hero again?

Loved it. Highly recommend.

(I received an advance reader copy of this book from a friend. There was no expectation that I'd write a review).
Profile Image for Valynne Maetani.
Author 3 books96 followers
March 6, 2015
Heidicker's writing is full of wit and heart. You can't go wrong with this book, especially for reluctant readers.
Profile Image for SB Senpai  Manga.
1,242 reviews
June 28, 2016
I... don't even know what I just read... This book reached new levels of bad. It had an interesting premise that could work, but this end result was a slow progressive ride on a broken rollercoaster. The characters have few redeeming qualities, we dragged on far too long inside the rehab facility, our main character does every dirty trick in the book for pure selfish reasons, and the ending was confusing and had zero character growth. Safe to say that this book sucks! People comparing this to Ready Player One should be ashamed.
Profile Image for Completely Melanie.
579 reviews377 followers
October 5, 2020
I give this a 3.5. This was a lot of fun. With the exception of them being able to drive, I felt the maturity level of this book was more middle grade. Though be warned that there is quite a bit of cursing in here as well. I enjoyed the video game references. The ending fell flat for me though.
Profile Image for Sana.
1,076 reviews956 followers
Shelved as 'anti-library'
April 30, 2017

Profile Image for Christy.
1,505 reviews258 followers
June 24, 2016
Come discuss with us over at Tales of the Ravenous Reader!

Cure for the Common Universe is Ready Player One meets Recovery Road. There's just enough contemporary in there to help non-gamers feel welcome and plenty of gaming references that only the most L33T will get it.

Poor Jaxon. He's forced into Video Game Rehab just as he sets up his first date. Jaxon isn't likable - Give him a fedora and Mt. Dew and he's totally a Reddit meme. He's in it to win it and doesn't care who he has to trample on his way to victory. And trample he does.

Video Game Rehab has been set up as an IRL version of a video game, where you complete quests to get points; once you get a million points, you're free to go back to your regularly scheduled Destiny matches. Jaxon joins the Fury Burds team, made up of other misfits like him. He quickly makes enemies of everyone except Soup, who will do anything for attention, including tasks on Jaxon's behalf.

Seventy-five percent of the book is Jaxon acting like a fool. We get it, you're not in a place to make the changes you need to stop being the jerk you are. To stop treating the women around you terribly. To stop using games as an escape from reality and DEAL.

The last 25% of the book is fast paced and will keep your attention. That's not to say the other 75% isn't worth reading, because it is. There's a lot of humor in this book. There just were times I wish I had a Portal gun to move past some of "quest" section of the book and get to the "heart" parts. As a gamer, I appreciated all the nods to classic gaming and the gaming culture.

Excuse me while I go play some Yoshi's Island now.

***While the publisher provided me an ARC of Cure for the Common Universe, no golden keys or unopened NES' came with so all the opinions here are without bribery!
Profile Image for Breana.
3 reviews
February 4, 2016
Very very mild spoilers ahead!
Heidicker finds a way to combine video game culture and feminism in a much-needed way. I should say that I am not, in any way, a gamer, but that did not deter my enjoyment of the book. While Miles is the main-character, he hardly makes for a protagonist in the classic sense where you root for the guy. Instead, you become endeared to the characters Miles meets along the way. This is obviously very purposeful on Heidicker's part. While yes, it is another book with a seemingly-white male dude at the core of the story, the book sets out to show how deeply flawed he is. You won't get any wild realizations from Miles by the end of the book, but you will see an honest dawning of change in him. One of the biggest reasons I love the book is it's honesty. No one character is without flaw, but none of them end the book without undergoing some sort of change.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Karen Fortunati.
Author 1 book103 followers
December 28, 2015
Wow - loved this ARC! Heidicker is a fabulous writer and the story of 16 year old Jaxon's exile to video game rehab days before his very first date is packed with humor, cracking dialogue and tremendous characters. I think that's one of the book's strongest points - a incredibly vivid cast! Jaxon's real life quest is to achieve enough points to garner an early exit from rehab to make his date. Along the way, he begins to realize the impact of his mother's addiction and his own reasons for escaping into gaming. Honest and entertaining, I highly, highly recommend this 2016 debut!!
Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,037 followers
August 2, 2016
3.5 stars

A solid book. I did like the main character even though he clearly had a lot of problems but that's what being human feels like. We're not perfect and we can't please everyone. Plot was unique and interesting. A bit predictable but that's what you get with most contemporary novels these days.

I will definitely check out Christian McKay Heidicke's next book because I think he can write realistic characters which aren't afraid to voice their opinion. We need more of those in young adult literature.
Profile Image for Tengku Haryani.
124 reviews4 followers
March 12, 2017
I really liked this book. But what's up with that ending? I'm confused. Initially it was a solid 5 stars but i didn't enjoyed that ending. It was as if the author did not have any ideas on how to end it. But i really enjoyed the beginning and the middle. The things that they did in the rehab was fun. The friends he made was diverse and really funny. But what happened to everyone in the end???? come on
Profile Image for Teenreadsdotcom.
696 reviews37 followers
June 8, 2017
Before I start this review, I'd like to make it clear that I, by no means, am a gamer. Jaxon, the protagonist of Christian McKay Heidicker’s CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE, absolutely is. We start off the novel with a brief introduction of Jaxon's life; we know Jaxon is the member of a guild through the game "Arcadia" called the Wight Knights, and spends his days playing video games. Until one day he meets a girl at a car wash who actually seems to be interested in him --- something that in his 16 years of living has never happened --- and schedules to meet up with her later that week. However, his dad has a surprise for him when he comes back home: he's going to video game rehab.

The story follows Jaxon as he frantically tries to make it out of video game rehab as fast as possible to make it on time for his date with the girl he met at the car wash, who he calls "Gravity.” How can he make it out? The answer is by amassing one million points playing sports, trying a new instrument, eating healthy and doing just about anything except playing video games.

From beginning to end, this novel was full of twists and turns that always added to the depth of the story. Characters like Soup and Meeki will make you want to laugh and experience their emotions, but sometimes will make you want to rip your hair out in anguish (figuratively, of course). I thought that the actual development of Jaxon trying to get points quickly was really fun to read about. Although if I had one complaint about this book, it's that it would be impossible for Jaxon to accumulate points as fast as he did in the novel. Similarly, while video game rehabilitation centers are real and emerging in America, it was perhaps a little strange for me to first learn about them through a work of fiction where people were released according to points (I can't say it's a bad idea though!).

I did end up forgetting about the whole point system after a while because I became really immersed in Jaxon and his friends. I ended up really wondering if Jaxon would get to one million before his date with Gravity and the huge plot twist that happens afterwards really made up for any problem I had with the book.

In the end, this isn't just a story about a kid going to video game rehab. I think there's actually much more to it --- CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE teaches that everything happens for a reason, and that sometimes when things go wrong, it really is for the best. The plotline was original, well-constructed and went above and beyond what most young adult novels aim to be. I highly recommend this novel for summer reading that you simply won't forget.

Reviewed by Rachel D., Teen Board Member
Profile Image for Beth.
744 reviews40 followers
February 24, 2016
Hmm still processing this one. Review to come.
UPDATE: 3.75 stars.
I love the gamer nerd world and Heidicker portrays it with accuracy and humor. The video game rehab camp is brilliantly fleshed out. Our cast of characters:the female characters are unrelentingly fierce,the dweebs are innocent and sweet, the bros are jerks, but our main character, Jaxson/Miles Prower is awful. I was really, really hating him by the end of the book. What an awful self-absorbed little turd. The end of the book does have him exhibiting the potential to become a better person. All that self awareness, coming of age, maturation that should be present in a YA title does. However my biggest complaint is Soup. What happens to poor Soup!?!?! Jaxson is all "welp, he lives in my neighborhood but I'm too lazy to seek him out to apologize even though I almost killed him." What is up with that. He's just written off. I want to know more about Soup.

UPDATE 2.0: A solid 4.25 stars.
Upon the revision, I can't wait to give this to me teen readers, who could definitely use from a stint in video game rehab themselves.

This title is great for reluctant readers, particularly gamers. Language would put this one at grades 8+ for me.

Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
618 reviews623 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 5, 2018
DNF at 111 pages. I skim-read the ending (last 50 pages or so) to know how this would end and it would not have been worth it to read the whole thing.
The main character is an asshole, which is fine but he does not learn anything throughout this novel. There is no character development whatsoever. Everything he does is still all for his personal gain. “It’s not like being a nice guy is a coat of paint that you can just slap on.” is a sentence said by one of the side character and god, do I appreciate it.
Definitely some of the side characters where the best part because they called the main character out on some of his bullshit but then there was also a female character that just seemed like a plot device so the main character can realize how wrong he’s been this whole time? Not that he really learns from that then.
Ugh I wanna vomit. This was really the worst case scenario. I wanted a great book about video game addiction and coping mechanism and instead I got a sexist teenage boy, unwilling to really learn from his mistakes. NO THANK YOU.
Profile Image for Krys M.
26 reviews15 followers
December 13, 2015
This first novel by Christian McKay Heidicker is an absolute joy to read, and I'm not just saying that because I won an advanced copy. (Thank you, Simon & Schuster!)

Jaxon (aka Miles Prower, get it?), our possibly lovable, definitely flawed narrator, is forced off to a video game rehab facility in the middle of the Utah desert. There, among a throng of intriguing, vividly portrayed misfits, each with a self-selected alias, "Miles" pines for the beautiful girl he just met, and schemes to get out by that same Thursday, even if that means bending the rules repeatedly.

Nerd references are ubiquitous throughout the story, and will make any gamer (current player or rehabilitated) feel right at home. I chuckled through most of the book (when I wasn't teary-eyed), and was sad to say goodbye to the assortment of characters once Miles' adventure came to an end.
Profile Image for Lara.
4,139 reviews339 followers
September 29, 2016
While in the end, I really like what Heidicker is trying to say here, and there are a lot of funny parts, and I kind of love who Jaxon ends up with at Mandrake's, I really struggled with him as a character. I just didn't like him. He does juuuust begin to change and grow up a little in the last...12 pages, but that wasn't enough for me after an entire book of him acting like a selfish, spoiled asshole. I did enjoy Meeki and Fezzik a lot, though Aurora felt a little too out there for me, and Soup basically felt like a carbon copy of Andrew Smith's Sam Abernathy from Stand-Off. Still, lots of fun video game culture and references, and seriously, Meeki, you guys. She kinda makes this book!
Profile Image for Avery (ThePagemaster).
595 reviews88 followers
March 30, 2018
DNF at pg. 268(86%)

Not gonna have Jaxon/Miles treat or talk to Soup like that! NOPE!

Now with a book about video games--in this case, "video game addiction"--it seems like a win/win. The book read fairly easy and sped through a bulk of it within a couple of days; LOADS of video game references, tie-ins, jargon, that bordered something from a Ernest Cline novel; and the scenes involving team games/tournament things together were very enjoyable to read.

With that said, all the in between was just...ehhh(?) Besides Soup, none of the characters truly popped out at me, pretty generic up until that 180 with Jaxon. In hindsight, not really a likeable main character, even before I decided to DNF.

Cool book cover, too!
Profile Image for Munro's Kids.
557 reviews17 followers
March 5, 2016
Cure for the Common Universe, despite a few low-points, turned out to be an excellent read. The protagonist was aggressively unlikable and the tropes were tired and over-played. Or so I thought... Christian Heidicker pleasantly surprised me by flipping all of this on it's head. Everytime that I thought I knew what predictable turn this book would take, it threw me for a loop. The ending is one of my favourites of all time, including "adult" books. My only criticism about this book would be that some of the video-game references seemed either forced or poorly researched. All in all the book was well-written and I believe dealt with important themes.
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