Angela's Reviews > Erebos

Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
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really liked it
bookshelves: netgalley, ebooks, first-reads, read-2012, ya-children-s

Excellent novel aimed at older teens. The storyline was fun, and at times creepy, character development was realistic, world building was exceptional and moral of the story was well played out.

I have one major problem with this novel and that was the translation. The copy I read was an English translation and although Poznanski's writing is first-rate, the translation leaves a lot to be desired. The novel is set in London yet the Americanisation’s overwhelm the ‘Englishness’ of the setting and the characters. As I was reading this, I would make a note simply stating ‘Another Americanism’ whenever I came across one. There are a lot of notes and highlights.

Quick example. In Britain, we do not refer to mobile phones as “cells”; we do not refer to football as “soccer” (we did invent the sport after all); we do not refer to our Mother’s as “Mom”; we do not refer to school classes as “periods”; we do not refer to school years as “sixth grade” and suchlike; we do not refer to breaks and free time as “recess”, and we do not spell “colour” without a ‘u’! This may sound like I’m nitpicking but if you set a book in Britain, at least make sure it actually READS and SOUNDS authentic.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not being xenophobic towards America here, but if you set a book in a certain place then I expect you to make the effort to use the correct dialectal compositions native to that place/country and not use American English to appeal to a wider audience. It makes absolutely no sense as to why American English is used in this novel and being British myself, I found it infuriating and quite insulting that this small bit of linguistic research had not been carried out. I don’t know whether this is a fault with Poznanski herself or with the translator, but either way it should have been highlighted in an editing process and as such lowers its overall rating.

Now I’ve got that rant off my chest, I can explain what it is I actually love about this book, because I did love it.

The game itself was very intriguing and incredibly creepy. I’m a big fan of gaming and the game of ‘Erebos’ itself definitely sounds like the type of game I would love. When our protagonist, Nick, receives the game and starts to play it, rather addictively, the novel takes a definite turn to disturbing. It’s like the game can read his mind, answering questions he asks it, knowing his favourite music and even leaving him a present in the form of a t-shirt of his favourite band. The game also sets out challenges in the ‘real world’ and seems to know if these tasks have been completed or not.

What I loved about this novel is when Nick is actually playing the game as the novel converts to the perspective of his character, Sarius. This adds another dimension to the novel as it feels as though you, the reader, are transported into the game and start to see and hear what Sarius sees and hears, and you forget that this is only a game and that Sarius is being controlled by Nick. It’s very clever writing and I can imagine many young gamers loving this aspect of the novel.

The character development of Nick is done very well. At first he reads like a typical sullen teenager, but as the novel progresses and the reader reads about not only his development but also his game character’s progression and development, I began to empathise with him. Although his earlier actions are somewhat questionable, he redeems himself immensely by helping to find out the truth about the game.

I don’t want to give too much away with regards to the origins of the game but the melding between fantasy and reality becomes more and more solid as the novel progresses and the concept of revenge and retribution becomes all too real and dangerous and the novel is brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

This was a brilliant read with plenty of action sequences and a good moral storyline. The world-building of the game itself was superb and scarily realistic and similarly the world-building of the ‘real’ world is very well done as well, and despite the use of Americanism’s it is convincing just not accurate with regards to the use of language.

An advance reader copy was kindly supplied by Netgalley.
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Quotes Angela Liked

Ursula Poznanski
“I withdraw my consent from reality. I deny it my assistance. I dedicate myself to the temptations of escapism, and throw myself wholeheartedly into the endlessness of unreality.”
Ursula Poznanski, Erebos

Reading Progress

February 14, 2012 – Started Reading
February 14, 2012 – Shelved
February 14, 2012 –
0.0% "I'm not far into this and the concept is great but the translation leaves a lot to be desired. This is set in modern day London but the use of Americanism's is infuriating. I don't know anyone native to this country who refers to football as 'soccer', mobile phones as 'cells', or calls their mother 'mom'."
February 14, 2012 – Shelved as: netgalley
February 15, 2012 –
February 15, 2012 –
22.0% "Other than the Americanism's in a supposedly British based book, this is really good so far. I understand the gaming addiction so think that helps the story."
February 19, 2012 –
February 21, 2012 –
92.0% "Curses to the bus for not running late for a change, I might have finished this on my way way to work."
February 22, 2012 – Shelved as: ebooks
February 22, 2012 – Shelved as: first-reads
February 22, 2012 – Shelved as: read-2012
February 22, 2012 – Shelved as: ya-children-s
February 22, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Jo (last edited Feb 25, 2012 04:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jo Great review, Angela. I have this book somewhere. :)

Maybe it's just because NG is an American site with American publishers who release "Americanised" versions of books. (Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley is a good example, apparently the American version is completely different to the Aussie one!)

I always wonder what trumps what in a book like this. You'd think if a book was set in Britain it would have British spelling/slang... just for authenticity.
But then again if I was writing a book set in America, I'd still cling on to my 'u's, my breaks, my footie and my courgettes. ;-)

Can't wait to read this though :)

message 2: by Tanja (new) - added it

Tanja Incredibly creepy you say? Sold! But I may see if there's a Danish translation and read that instead and hope the translation is better. The things you mention would put me off the entire book and that just doesn't seem fair! :)

Angela @Jo - it's the only thing that I annoyed me whilst reading this, and I kept forgetting that it was set in London because they kept referring to their 'cells'. I don't see why it needs to be Americanised, it's not like people would get confused over the omission of 'cell' and the replacement of 'mobile' etc is it? There was a definite lack of British slang as well (and lack of swearing, we swear a lot over here!)

I wouldn't set a book in a country I was not familiar with, and I would never get rid of my 'u's'! Hahaha.

@Tanja - if you can get another translation then do so but then I'm not sure if many others would even pick up on the lack of British authenticity, unless they were British.
It's creepy when he's playing the game but the main theme of the book is really about revenge and retribution and the game is a backdrop for that.

Don't be put off by it, I thought it was really good, and I'm fairly difficult to please, literature-wise.

Angela Skyla (Happy Go Lucky and Lost in Books) wrote: "I hate when people write something set in England and use the Americanized words for things, so I'm glad you pointed it out as I am going to be pointing it out in my review. This is why I have so m..."

Other than the same thing that irked me, are you enjoying it? I was so pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book.

Angela I downloaded Skyfall from netgalley and it wouldn't play on my kindle so took me a while to read it on my laptop. Strange how some things work and others don't on the same device.

Angela My laptop is exactly the same. I got it when I first went to uni.
*thinks* Fuck, that was like 11 years ago!

Nenia ⭐ Literary Garbage Can ⭐ Campbell That's interesting, because translated works are usually too British!! At least the ones I have read. :)

Angela Nenia wrote: "That's interesting, because translated works are usually too British!! At least the ones I have read. :)"

Hahaha, not sure if I've come across anything like that. The translator actually got in touch me and said that it was the publisher who changed it to American English so I felt a bit bad but I stand by my point that British phrases and spelling should be used when a book is based in Britain. I get annoyed when a book is set in the USA and American English isn't used, I find it confusing!

R.S. Carter I had some issues with the translation but according to your notes, it seems that American terms were used. And I see that is what happened in this last comment above. Although American, I also had translation issues that seemed to intensify toward the end. But I still loved the book.

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