Book: Doomed by Tracy Deebs, Walker Childrens, On Sale Now
Book Info: YA Dystopia, ARC via NetGalley, Hardcover 480 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
I’m thrilled to be the next stop in the Doomed blog tour, brought to you by Bloomsbury! Today I’m sharing my review of the book as well as an interview with author Tracy Deebs.
I’m not really a gamer, though after reading other books like Ready Player One and Insignia I realized gaming books could be lots of fun. And Doomed puts a new spin on the gaming idea by turning it into a Greek mythology mash-up. Take a modern-day girl named Pandora. She loves gaming, and like a normal teen spends a lot of time online. To bring the Pandora myth into modern times, instead of opening a box of evil, she unleashes a computer virus that leaves the world at a standstill. It’s a little like that 80s movie War Games when an innocent computer game turns into a matter of national security. The book is action packed and has a lot to offer fans of gaming, mythology, and dystopia.
While I wasn’t apprehensive about the gaming aspect, I was nervous about the mythology tie-in. I haven’t had the best experiences with YA mythology books. Doomed worked for me, though, because of the futuristic take and the subtle references to the Pandora myth. It probably works even better if you are very familiar with the mythology, but as a novice I never felt like I was missing anything. Helping Pandora solve the cyber crisis is a pair of handsome stepbrothers, Theo and Eli – Pandora scholars will recognize them as Titans Prometheus and Epimetheus.
Pandora is aware of her namesake and in on the joke – noting the irony of the game being called Pandora’s Box. Another troubling part of the mystery is the fact that Pandora’s estranged father sends Pandora the attachment that starts the virus, on her seventeenth birthday no less! He also leaves clues for her to follow to halt the Armageddon. But is it all just a wild goose chase? Pandora is strong and independent but this mess is pretty overwhelming for her.
The stepbrothers are acquaintances of Pandora, but now she has to trust them blindly or else go out on her own. There is a bit of a love triangle going on with the trio. Theo is the brooding, tech-y brother, while Eli is more of an easy-going charmer. Theo was the more interesting of the two to me; he had a little more depth to him. I liked how the three worked together as a team and the different strengths they each brought to the table. I could take or leave the love triangle but I think it works with the mythology angle.
Doomed is high concept and looks at the impact of technology on our world and what it would look like if it all went away. Doomed also gives a nod to the environmental issues we face today, and with the gaming angle makes them accessible to readers. The game and reality collide with monsters in the game mirrored by bad guys in the real world. The trio has to beat the clock and elude government agents and villains to save the world from doom.
This book is pure escapist fun and a fast paced read that I think will appeal to reluctant readers. Gamers especially will find a lot to like about Doomed. (I had to look up a few terms but for the most part I followed along) The author is working on the next book in the series, so be aware that there are loose threads at the end of Doomed. Looking forward to reading more from Tracy Deebs!
Interview with Author Tracy Deebs:
I like the mashup of gaming, dystopia, mythology and romance in Doomed. What inspired you to write Doomed and what parts were the most fun for you to write?
It was kind of a two-step process, actually. I’ve always loved the Pandora myth, have always wanted to write a book from her point of view because I think she got a bad rap. But I had originally planned to set it in New Orleans, to have her accidentally open a crypt in one of the cemeteries and bring down a bunch of natural disasters, plagues, etc. Then, one day at the very beginning of the planning process, my agent asked, “What if she opens an attachment instead of a box?” The idea fascinated me and in the next few weeks, I worked like a crazy woman putting together a synopsis for Doomed that included a Stuxnet type worm that brings down civilization as we know it, an MMO called Pandora’s Box that starts it all, a countdown to nuclear annihilation (Fukishima, the Japansese power plant that had a meltdown was going on at this time, with its inability to deliver electricity that caused the leaks and just fit perfectly into the book), and a real-life scavenger hunt for Pandora to go on to try to stop the destruction of the world as we know it.
As for which parts were most fun … this was the hardest book I’ve ever written (and I’ve written 27 at this point). The research was crazy intense and piecing together the game quest with the real life quest was very difficult, so difficult that for six months following the book I had a hard time writing anything else (which was a problem since I had contracts for three other books at that time). But the most fun parts to write had to be the scenes when I was getting Pandora, Theo and Eli into trouble … and then the scenes when I had to get them out of that trouble.
In Doomed, Pandora unleashes a virus that shuts down technology. What is your relationship with technology and how did that shape Doomed? How would you manage without the Internet?
It’s interesting really, because I’m a technophobe. It’s not that I’m actually afraid to use the technology (I’m married to an electrical engineer and we have a ton of cool gadgets) but I have always been suspicious of technology, something that drove my computer guru father crazy when I was growing up and now drives my husband nuts. When I first started writing this book, I complained to a friend that I so wasn’t the person to be writing a book so heavily rooted in technology and she told me that I was exactly the right person, because only someone as suspicious of technology as I was could imagine it being turned against us so completely, LOL. At the same time, I use the Internet for everything and would be miserable if it came crashing down around us.
It’s that time of year for New Year’s resolutions. What resolutions should Pandora, and her friends, Eli and Theo make?
I think they might be a little too busy trying to stay alive and out of federal custody to make resolutions at the moment, LOL. But if they weren’t, I think Pandora would resolve to try to mend her relationship with her mother. Theo would make a resolution to take flying lessons and Eli would resolve to go to class more often.
There is a strong gaming aspect in Doomed. What are some of your favorite video games or movies based on video games?
My favorite old-school video game is Pac-Man, LOL. If we’re talking MMOs, I love Doom (the original MMO), World of Warcraft, and am currently wrapped up in Dragons of Atlantis.
Pandora is curious like her mythological namesake and has to rescue technology from her mishap and save the world. Who are some of your favorite YA heroines?
Oh, there are so many. I love Hermoine from Harry Potter, Lily from Emily McKay’s The Farm, Claire from Rachel Caine’s The Morganville Vampires series, Carmen from Jessica Martinez’s Virtuosity, Lenny from Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere, Lena from The Beautiful Creatures books, Katniss from The Hunger Games, Lily from Tera Lynn Child’s Fins books and Jacinda from Sophie Jordan’s Firelight series.
If Doomed had a theme song what would it be?
The song that ran through my head over and over again as I was writing the book is R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine).”
Thanks so much for the fun interview, Tracy!
Tracy Deebs collects books, English degrees and lipsticks and has been known to forget where—and sometimes who—she is when immersed in a great novel. At six she wrote her first short story—something with a rainbow and a prince—and at seven she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. From the first page of that first book, she knew she’d found her life-long love. Now a writing instructor at her local community college, Tracy writes YA novels that run the gamut from dark mermaids and witches to kissing clubs and techno-Armageddon stories… and she still has a soft spot for Judy Blume.