Monday, October 30, 2017

Status: the Game - a cyber thriller exploring your thirst for popularity

Commies, this book really hits home. If you have kids in high school, or if you are trying to make sense of your own teenage years, please check out this thrilling cyber mystery, Status: the Game by Vincent Robert Annunziato.

Bob Brooks is down on his luck. He ekes out a living as a substitute teacher and grabs odd jobs to make ends meet. It's never enough though and desperation sets in. Partly his fault, Bob is an overgrown kid at heart, dreaming of the day he can dedicate his life to full time gaming. It's selfish, but games are a calling.... And teaching? Just a bridge to something else. Life goes from bad to worse until Bob reads about a new internet game called Status. The internet sensation promises money, prizes and popularity to players who succeed. Bob marvels at the prospects and perfects a plan. Teach students about the internet while playing Status and have students build up his points in the game. With a never-ending supply of incoming, naïve teenagers, it's perfect. Madison High is perfect too. Affluent, hi tech and filled with students who have money and time. Even better? The Principal thinks he's cute and loves his proposal on Status. Once Bob debuts at Madison, though, he finds out that great plans aren't always so great. Especially once he learns his students are already playing Status and they are better at it than him.

Everyone is suspect in this thrilling adventure of social battles that pits brains versus brawn and haves versus have nots. Find out who wins! Oh and by the way, obtaining enough status might just make you the next big star of the internet. With fame and fortune just a rumor away, who wouldn't want to play... "Status?"

My thoughts:
There is a good reason why teachers and school administrators are sternly advised against having presence on social media, let alone friending their students, let alone playing online games with them. In Vincent Annunziato's novel "Status: the Game", a mousy, inconspicuous, insecure twenty-eight year old Bob Brooks gets a second chance at boosting his self-esteem and reliving his teen years when he becomes a teacher at an elite public high-school and gets hooked on an interactive game "Status" that brings out the most competitive and vindictive aspects of the human nature.

There are so many things to love, to ponder and to identify with in this novel. If you are a teen, parent a teen or remember being a teen, this novel will certainly reopen a few wounds - but in a most therapeutic way. It's that wholesome eye-opening pain that leads to healing. Kudos to the author for creating an intricate and convincing virtual universe that mirrors the real world even though it promises a chance for redemption and prestige to those who are underdogs in real life. The more the players try to reinvent themselves in an alternative reality, the more like themselves they become - the ugliest, most vicious and grotesque versions of themselves. 

"Stay strong, stay loyal!" That running slogan is loaded with irony and hypocrisy. So many relationships in the book are based on exploiting other people's weaknesses and cajoling them into alliances that result in angst and violence. Remember, convoluted alliances is what had led to WWI.

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