*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author and The Book Review Crew. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: The Game of Satori, a virtual reality escape game that hacks your mind–delving deeply into your subconscious, pulling memories, thoughts and beliefs to the surface that have long been suppressed. All in the name of Satori–sudden enlightenment. The winner will claim one million dollars and the promise of a new life.
Do you have the guts to see what’s hidden there?
It’s just a game… isn’t it?
A new reality show is taking the nation by storm. Satori is a game of escape, only the rooms are not the typical one-hour affair. In Satori’s virtual reality game, players have five days to solve each room’s cutting-edge maze filled with physical, emotional, and psychological puzzles. All in the name of reaching Satori—translation: “sudden enlightenment.”
Produced by the infamous Jacob Novak, known for creating revolutionary technology that pushes the bounds of imagination and his half-brother, Gabriel, the iconic transformational guru whose personal growth platform ‘awakens your aliveness,’ Satori guarantees not only to alter the lives of the contestants through the supernatural rooms, but also the lives of those who tune in to watch.
Ellie, twenty-two, who recently embezzled money to help a friend escape deportation—and dodge her own eviction notice—finds herself on the run only to be randomly selected from an open call to the public: join the new game Satori. The prize is one million dollars and a get-out-of-jail-free card.
The game quickly becomes a heart-racing labyrinth through a series of psychological tests meant to break—or transform—each contestant. As other contestants struggle and fail, Ellie holds on through sheer desperation, knowing that her sanity and future depend on her tenacity to become the first survivor of Satori.
The Game of Satori is an immersive story about letting go of the past in order to move closer to a state of psychological and spiritual enlightenment.
The main character, Ellie, is forced into making some rash and illegal decisions in the first few pages of the book – with the best intentions – and then promptly enters a new and mysterious reality gameshow, Satori, in which she has the potential to solve her real-life problems if she wins, but only if she can keep her secrets and avoid being disqualified for them. The problem is, the creators of Satori seem to know things they shouldn’t, things Ellie has never told anyone. Things she doesn’t even know about herself.
As soon as Ellie entered the game, I was completely hooked!
This is the first in a series, so the story covers the first puzzle room. We meet some of the Satori staff (Gabriel and Jacob Novak, Benjamin, Euri) and Ellie’s initial teammates – Peter, Indigo, Staver, Jared and Malory. At first, some of the characters appear to be somewhat stereotypical, but it doesn’t take long for Amy Jacquemard and the game to start peeling back layers and revealing the more complex personalities hidden beneath the public masks.
For Satori isn’t just a game, it appears to be an actual route towards changing a person’s character, by forcing them to examine their past choices, their fears and regrets, and then begin to forge healthier patterns of thinking and behaving. There is more than simply a series of VR puzzles at play here – the story is saturated with philosophical, psychological and moral insights. References to Biblical stories and morality are obvious throughout, but the book is also packed with pop culture references – art, literature, music, films, tv shows – a little bit of something for everyone!
There is also a broader mystery for Ellie and the reader to solve, in the power struggle between the two brothers Novak. It appears to be a standard good vs. evil scenario at first, but in Satori nothing is as it first appears, and as Ellie begins to change and to interact with her rivals and the game itself in new ways, it becomes clear that anything could happen and there is everything still to play for.
The story has a satisfying conclusion, with the completion of the first round of the game, but leaves the reader wanting more, as we leave Ellie preparing to face her next challenge and still pondering the bigger problems of both the game and her outside life. I couldn’t put the book down until I had turned the last page, and will definitely be tuning in to the next instalment… I need to know what the next puzzle is, and whether Ellie and co. will make it through intact, or maybe even improved? In this instance, I can’t help but hope that the path to enlightenment is a long and winding one!
The room in front of us is not a room, but a different land, another world, really. It’s familiar and weird, and totally and completely real, at least it seems that way. My hand instinctively reaches back to the place where they inserted the device — their SIR Link — into my neck.
“We’re standing in Dali’s painting of The Persistence of Memory,” Staver says in awe.– Amy Jacquemard, The Game of Satori: The Awakening
The Game of Satori: The Awakening is available on Amazon right now!
Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs on this tour (see the poster below for details) for more great content and reviews!