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Idlewild
Nick Sagan
Adult Fiction SAGAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Billed as a near-future thriller, Sagan's first novel plods through terrain all too familiar to SF readers. The narrator awakens with amnesia in a mysterious realm easily identified as a computer-generated virtual reality, fraught with metaphors and symbols. He slowly grasps that his name is Halloween, and that he may have murdered someone called Lazarus. Eventually, he realizes he's one of a handful of high school students attending "Immersive Virtual Reality" classes at the Idlewild IVR Academy, sponsored by the Gedaechtnis Corporation, a multinational biotech company. Intimidated by the villainous teacher, Maestro, and wary of his fellow students, Halloween is determined to recover his memory, apparently damaged in a power surge that threatened to destroy the IVR, and learn what really happened to the missing Lazarus. Despite a compelling twist near the middle, the low tension and meandering plot will likely frustrate the primary target audience, mainstream fans of such futuristic action films as The Matrix and Minority Report. Sagan may not be the next Philip K. Dick or William Gibson, but he shows enough talent here to suggest he can improve on pacing in the promised sequel. (Aug. 11) Forecast: As the son of the late popular astronomer Carl Sagan, the author is bound to get more than the usual media attention for a first novel. The stark, stylish jacket-of an impressionistic brown-toned butterfly superimposed on a "solar eclipse"-signals that, unlike a lot of genre SF, this is a class act. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Awakening with amnesia after a near-death experience, the 17-year-old narrator, alias Halloween, is propelled into a "virtual reality" educational landscape supervised by a mysterious teacher dubbed the Maestro and populated by eight other students playing dangerous games. Certain that someone is trying to murder him, Halloween begins to delve beneath the layers of illusion to discover that not only his life but also that of humanity is at stake. In this fast-paced debut set in the near-future, the son of the late astronomer Carl Sagan touches upon contemporary issues such as technology immersion, youth violence, and the fear of biological disaster. But filtered through the eyes of an angsty, self-absorbed, albeit smart, teenager, the narration becomes claustrophobic and thin, despite the ambitious scope of the plot. Aimed at the audiences of The Matrix and Minority Report and fans of Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, and Mark Danielewski, Sagan's novel lacks their richness and depth, occasionally reading more like a drawn-out short story rather than a novel. Still, disregarding publicity hype, it is a fine debut by a writer with potential to grow, and fans of those same authors will enjoy this as a quick beach read. Recommended.-Ann Kim, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Gabriel "Halloween" Hall
Male
Age: 18
Amnesiac
Imaginative; attends an exclusive school where the learning is done in a VR environment.
College student



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