The first book in a YA science fiction/fantasy trilogy Feyland.

Publication year: 2012
Format: ebook
Page count: 319

I’ve enjoyed Anthea Sharp’s short fiction before so when I got a chance to try out one of her books (which seems to be still free on Kindle), I jumped up at it, even though the book is YA which I don’t usually read.

This is an interesting mix of science fiction and fantasy. The setting is near-future SF world where the people with money have all sorts of gadgets in everyday life, including homes with AI, and the poor people… barely survive. Jennet Carter is a game developer’s daughter. Her father gave her access to the latest fantasy full immersion simulation game, Feyland, which is still in development. But when she loses a game to the Dark Fairy Queen, she realizes that the Queen has actually taken her soul and she might die. Events in the game affect real world.

Her father has also been relocated to a very different part of the country and Jennet follows him to Crestview because she has to play again in the experimental game and try to get her soul back. Unfortunately, the Queen declares that Jennet can’t return unless she has a champion with her. So, Jennet goes into the unfamiliar school which has kids from both rich and poor families, and tries to find anyone who is good enough simulator player that he could save her. Luckily for her, Tam Linn attend the same school. Reluctantly at first, Tam agrees to play the experimental game with her, but soon he, too, is enchanted by the Feyland.

Tam Linn comes from a poor broken home. His mother is a drug addict who can’t be relied on and he has a younger brother who needs to be watched constantly. His only refuge from his terrible life is playing simulation games and he’s very very good at it. At first, he resents Jennet’s status but soon he starts to care for her, as well. However, he’s reluctant to show or talk about his life to her which puzzles her.

Tam and Jennet come from very different backgrounds but they have a common love: gaming. Tam can’t rely on his mother and his father is long gone. However, Jennet’s father is around but she doesn’t talk to him because she thinks it’s too difficult. I found this a bit hard to swallow but this is a YA book and if the adults get involved, the youngsters get sidelined. Also, Jennet doesn’t even think about helping Tam with his home situation. Granted, Tam is pretty tight-lipped about it but once Jennet sees his “home” she doesn’t think about helping him, even once.

Oh yeah, Tam and Jennet are definitely forming feelings for each other. Despite Jennet being in trouble, she’s as helpful as she can be in the game and isn’t just a damsel in distress.

I really enjoyed the very dark and moody Feylands with the appearance of a couple of creatures from fairy myths. I also liked the side character Marne, a fat girl who is Tam’s only friend (until Jennet shows up). Tam’s problems with his family were believable, in fact I bought them far better than Jennet’s inability to talk to her father.

The book has a clear resolution. A good read and I enjoyed the mix of SF and fantasy.