Publisher: Rock the Boat
Publication Date – 30 October 2018
From the superstar team of comedian Jason Segel and young adult author Kirsten Miller comes the second book in their Last Reality series, OtherEarth.
Simon saved his best friend, Kat, from the clutches of the Company and their high-tech VR gaming experience, Otherworld. But it was at a steep price. Now he, Kat, and their friend Busara are on the run. They know too much. About the Company’s dark secrets. About the real-life consequences of playing Otherworld. And about Kat’s stepfather’s involvement in everything. The group is headed to New Mexico to find Simon’s old roommate, who is a tech genius and possibly the only person who can help them reveal the truth about the Company before it’s too late and the line between what’s real and what’s fantasy is erased… forever.
Imagine a future in which you can leave reality behind and give in to your greatest desires. That future is now. And the future is terrifying.
Segel and Miller are an interesting team with some history, having previously written the Nightmares series together. While Segel is best known for his film, television and comedy work, Miller is an established young adult author, having written two additional series.
I read the first book in this series, Otherworld, late last year, and it was one of the first young adult books I actually reviewed, as I had not professionally looked at this genre much before. After reading and enjoying the first book a lot, I started checking out more young adult books in the last year, resulting in some really fun finds and some truly excellent reads. As a result, I was very excited to check out the follow-up to this book and I was curious to see if I would enjoy OtherEarth the same way I enjoyed Otherworld. I have to say that overall I had a lot of fun with this second book in the Last Reality series, and it had a lot of great and memorable elements to it.
OtherEarth follows on straight after the events of Otherworld, with the protagonists on the run from the Company. During their previous adventure, the protagonists were able to determine that the Company had been experimenting on coma victims, installing them into their high-tech video game Otherworld, and killing anyone who learns about their secrets. Simon, Kat, Busara and newcomer Elvis are now determined to expose the sinister actions of the Company while also saving the sentient programs that have come to life within the game.
One of the interesting things I liked about OtherEarth was the way that the authors split the story between the characters going on adventures within the Otherworld game and their attempts to evade and manipulate the company in the real world. In order to solve their real-world problems, the protagonists are forced to venture into Otherworld in order to locate the consciences of people the Company have trapped within the game in order to obtain the information or resources to shut the Company down for good. The blend between these in-game adventures and the subsequent real-world actions they take while evading and attacking the Company works really well and helps create an intriguing story. Both parts of these stories have some great moments, and there are some fantastic twists throughout the book that will keep the reader keen to check out the final book in this series.
The focus on video games continues to be a major part of this book, and the authors offer up a bit of a critique of the future of this medium. In OtherEarth, every player of Otherworld is a certifiable psychopath, as the world’s richest gamers buy up the extremely exclusive access to the game. Watching the various players use the game to fulfil their violent desires and use the game to act as gods is quite eye opening, as is the protagonist’s growing addiction to the game and the combat mechanisms within it. The programs within Otherworld who have gained sentience also offer a unique edge to the story and it is fascinating to watch them react against the players and creators they encounter.
There is a certain amount of humour and comedy throughout the book, although it is not as strictly comedic as other works by Jason Segel. However, there are some pretty fun and amusing sequences throughout the novel. The one that springs to mind the easiest is one particularly entertaining high-stakes sequence that suddenly devolves into a weird and comedic discussion about Dame Judi Dench in some very unusual contexts. The combination of OtherEarth’s humour and the mostly serious nature of the story gives the book an unique flavour which comes together in a very enjoyable way.
From a young adult perspective, this book is probably best intended for an older teen audience as it contains some adult content. While not as bad as the first book in the series, which contained a pretty inappropriate early scene in which the protagonist blackmails a couple of bitchy high school girls with their nudes, the intense action and some sexual content is probably not ideal for younger readers. However, this book will be perfect for the older teen market, and most adult readers will have a good time reading this book.
Overall, OtherEarth is an excellent follow-up to Segel and Miller’s Otherworld, and continues their fun techno-thriller adventure. With some great humour, an intriguing story and some interesting examinations of the gaming medium, OtherEarth is another exciting read for the older young adult audience. This is a brilliant read that is well worth checking out. I will personally am looking forward to the third book in the Last Reality series, OtherLife, which is coming out in October 2019.