Book Review: Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker
While this was an interesting concept, it just didn't do much for me. Thus, 3/5 stars.
Jaxon is a whiny and spoiled-brat protagonist who actually realizes he is by the end of the book (yay). The book begins with Jaxon playing "Arcadia," his favorite video game, and being stopped by his dad who has come to force Jaxon to go clean their car, since his step-mother had just asked him to and he rudely blew her off. Jaxon goes to the car wash and struggles with the dispenser. He meets a girl by accidentally soaking her. Her name is Serena. He makes her laugh. Thus, he thinks he wins her heart immediately. He asks her out, she agrees. They set a time and place and she leaves, saying she does not have a phone or Facebook, so he has no contact information. He returns home to see his computer ruined and his father with two huge men who sweep him into a car and tell him he is going to video game rehab AKA "Video Horizons." He is driven far away across the desert to an isolated building, where he meets the creator of Video Horizons and learns the system: earn 1 million points by playing games (physical activity, not video games), eating healthy food, participating in your guild's therapy group, and working with your guild mates. Jaxon's only focus is to earn 1 million points within the next three days in order to get out and go on his date with Serena. The book unfolds with him being selfish, whiny, and pushy, and his guild mates just being there...getting pushed around. The most enjoyable parts of the book were Aurora and Meeki's background stories. Soup was annoying and creepy, but I felt bad for him after learning more about his home life (but his relationship with his step-brother and attitude towards his death were creepy. He didn't really seem to care).
So the big twist?
Jaxon earns the 1 million points. He prepares to be freed. But then Soup sneaks an iPod into his suitcase and the founder finds it. He successfully proves Soup did it, but gets points taken for disrespecting Soup. He calls Mandrake's, the restaurant he was going to meet Serena at (his guild leader allows him to use his phone out of sympathy), and realizes he was stood up all along. But surprise! Serena shows up...at Video Horizons. Turns out she maxed out her mom's credit card playing "Candy Crush." Soup is missing, so they all go looking for him. Serena is so pissed about being there that she steals the founder's car and $20 from his desk, and drives with Jaxon to a casino where she blows the $20 gambling, gets drunk, and then gets arrested. Jaxon is not apprehended, since he was getting Serena some Starbucks. She had the keys, so he wanders back through the desert all night and makes it back to Video Horizons. His dad is there. His dad takes him home. Once back home, he attempts to connect with Soup, who was found and ended up being only 6 blocks away from Jaxon. Soup wants nothing to do with him, no shocker.
The book ends with Jaxon meeting with Meeki and Serena at Mandrake's. Serena disappears, and Meeki and Jaxon talk.
It was...just an okay story. I read it. And it's pretty forgettable.