My copy of The Demi-Monde, by Rod Rees, lay enticingly on the coffee table. Sean, my older son, plopped down on the sofa as was his habit, and immediately picked it up. He read the blurb on the back, and said, “Hey, this sounds pretty good. Can I read it?”
“Sure,” I said.
This was some time in the afternoon. Later that evening, he appeared quite distracted all through dinner, and then disappeared back into his room for the rest of the night.
From the bleary-eyed look on his face the next day, I assumed, correctly, that he’d stayed up late into the night, finishing the book.
“Good?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “I really liked it.”
Sean generally divides his time between university, friends, and video games; over the past few years I’ve managed to get him to read quite a lot simply by leaving enticing-looking books lying around. We share somewhat similar reading tastes (although he’s much more of a history buff than I am), which makes these random acts of reading enticement on my part easier.
I knew the premise behind The Demi-Monde would catch his eye:
The U.S. military crated the Demi-Monde to train its soldiers in urban warfare. A virtual world of 30 million inhabitants ruled by cyber-duplicatse of some of history’s most dangerous psychopaths – from Grand-Inquisitor Torquemada to fanatical Nazi butcher Rudolph Heydrich – it is a twisted nightmare and anything but a game. Because if you die inside the Demi-Monde, you die in the Real World.
Now, in the year 2018, something has gone horribly wrong …
The U.S. President’s daughter has been lured into this terrifying shadow world and her only hope of rescue is Ella Thomas, an eighteen-year-old student and jazz singer who’s never received a day of military training. Somehow she must infiltrate the Demi-Monde and bring the First Daughter out. But Ella is about to discover something the U.S. government does not yet know – the walls containing the evils of this simulated world are rapidly dissolving … and the Real World is in far more danger than anyone could ever imagine.
Rather synchronistically, that very same day after he’d finished reading The Demi-Monde, I received the ARC of The Shadow Wars in the mail. “Look,” I said, waving the book at him. “It’s the sequel to The Demi-Monde.” He took it out of my hands and we didn’t see him again for the rest of the day.
Norma Williams knows she was a fool to be lured into the virtual nightmare that is the Demi-Monde. When the agent sent in the game to save her goes rogue and a long forgotten evil is awoken, it falls to Norma to lead the resistance.
Lost, without a plan, and with the army of the ForthRight marching ever closer, she must come to terms with terrible new responsibilities and with the knowledge that those she thought were her friends are now her enemies. To triumph in this surreal cyber-world she must be more than she ever believed she could be . . . or perish.
He was bleary-eyed again the next morning, having pulled another all-nighter to finish the second book (oh, how I wish for the days when I had the energy to do that!).
I asked him a few days later if he’d like to write the reviews for the books. He looked at me, wide-eyed and in partial shock, shaking his head frantically. My kid’s a reader, but not big on writing; while he’s doing well at university, he still has a tendency to check the word count as he approaches the end of an essay writing session, to make sure he’s made the minimum required.
So we settled on a compromise: an interview. Here it is, not quite verbatim because I didn’t pull out a pen and paper to take notes:
Me: So what did you think of The Demi-Monde?
S: I liked it a lot.
Me: What did you enjoy the most about it?
S: I liked the whole idea of this world created by the government as a training ground for its soldiers. It’s a pretty complex world, and the fact that sections of it were ruled by famous historical figures was really interesting.
Me: The Demi-Monde definitely is an interesting world. So you liked that part of it?
S: I liked how detailed the world was, the different factions and geographical regions, and how each one was a reflection of the historical character who ruled it. I think if you like history, you’d like this book.
Me: If you liked fantasy/science fiction, too, you mean.
Me: What did you think about The Shadow Wars?
S: That was interesting too, but it didn’t grab me the way The Demi-Monde did.
Me: How come?
S: (thinks about it a little bit more) It didn’t focus as much on the history-related aspects of the Demi-Monde, I guess. And one of the main characters becomes this god-like character with no emotions. I didn’t really like that. I also didn’t like that the Real World was really more of an alternate history type of world. In The Demi-Monde it doesn’t go much into the Real World, but you just assume it’s like our world, only a few years into the future. But then in The Shadow Wars you find out it’s more of an alternate history version.
Me: So you didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book?
S: No, not really. But I really liked the first book. I probably wouldn’t want to read the third in the series, though.
Then we moved on to a discussion of The Demi-Monde, which I was in the middle of reading. It was a very fun discussion, and I know I’d like to do more of these mother-son kinds of reviews/interviews!
With thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing review copies of The Demi-Monde and The Shadow Wars, by Rod Rees.