Title: The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (December 27, 2011)
Objective rating: 3/5
1. A subclass of society whose members embrace a decadent lifestyle and evince loose morals.
2. A shadow world where the norms of civilized behavior have been abandoned.
3. A massive multiple-player simulation technology that re-creates in a wholly realistic cyber-milieu the threat-ambiance and no-warning aspects of a hi-intensity, deep-density, urban Asymmetric Warfare Environment.
Welcome to the Demi-Monde, the ultimate in virtual reality—a military training ground and vivid, simulated world of cruelty and chaos run by psychopaths, madmen and fanatics. If you die here, you die in the Real World . . ." (publisher's description)
My comments: I started out liking Chapter 1 and thought it would be fun to read the rest of the book. The premise was promising: an 18-year-old jazz singer Ella Thomas is sent into the shadow world of the Demi-Monde to find the missing daughter of the President of the U.S., a girl who entered a simulated world that is too lifelike, full of history's most notorious characters, and extremely dangerous.
However, I soon found the book was not for me, for the following reasons:
1. I would have preferred new villains instead of the old ones rehashed - the bad guys in history showing up again and again in this book.
2. I was put off by the names of the groups, names which made it hard for me to take the book seriously. UnFunDaMentalism is the name of the new religion in the ForthRight. Then there is HimPerialism, another religion in an Arabic sector. There are the HerEtical Sisters of Suffer-O-Gettism who serve the witch Jeanne Dark. These names all seemed to me extremely silly (my apologies to the author). Add to the groups "the Zulus and the Chinks"....need I say more?
Here is some of the dialogue: "I need an assistant, Miss Thomas - a beautiful, vivacious and intelligent assistant - who can assist me in the execution of certain elements of theatricality I, through necessity, have been obliged to incorporate into my performances."
Ella smiled."So you want me to be your assistant flimflammer?" (ch. 16. This is taken from an uncorrected proof. The final copy may differ.)
The book has been nominated for prizes in England. I don't know how it will do in the U.S.
About the author: Rod Rees lives near Derby, England. He has traveled throughout Africa, the Middle East, Bangladesh, and Russia. The Demi-Monde: Winter is the first in a planned four-book series.
I won an ARC of this novel from the publisher.