by Robert J. Peterson
Review by Mel Jacob
Rare Bird Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781942600732
Date: 09 August 2016 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A young adult novel aimed at the wired and virtual reality users, Omegaball by Robert J. Peterson takes the reader into the world of the Darknet where anything can happen, even murder.
Told from multiple viewpoints, the novel switches between a pair of twins, a government investigation, a Dreadnoughts general manager, and various others. Football had been banned and replaced by Omegaball by 2176.
The twins, Laurie and Helen Everett, are like chalk and cheese. Laurie is a genius, but was disabled at birth. Helen is a track star, but also the bad girl, jealous of Laurie's treatment by others, especially their father, and of her sister's mental abilities.
The Darknet is especially seductive to someone like Laurie because it enables her to interact with others and play her favorite sport Omegaball, something she can't do in the real world. She has become an expert player.
The mysterious Mr. Chalk, the developer of the Darknet is sought by government investigators anxious to catch him. He is a cybernet hacker, Darknet expert, and a public enemy. No one knows who he is or where. Meanwhile, Intersol agents hunt for him. He comes from the outer solar system that needs more resources for communities that are barely surviving. He will do anything to achieve his goals.
Helen, Laurie's identical twin, hates her sister and tries to sabotage her at every turn. Her anger escalates when she is forced out of school for mindbending, i.e. taking control of others to get what she wants. Helen is determined to make Laurie pay for this despite the fact her sister had nothing to do with it.
In real life, a young teen, Lee Driscoll, is in love with Laurie and he is her access node to the Darknet. While great friends, Laurie does not see him as a heartthrob. Meanwhile, Mr. Chalk tries to interest her in helping his cause, but Laurie doesn't trust him.
Peterson builds a believable world and interesting characters. The story builds to an exciting climax when Laurie and Helen face off in an Omegaball game. Those into virtual reality, gaming, and role playing will find plenty to identify with in the novel.