World Leader Pretend

James Bernard Frost, Author . St. Martin's Griffin $13.95 (325p) ISBN 978-0-312-35223-3

Debut novelist Frost captures the messy, human interaction of the Internet with the equally messy story of 32-year-old failed dot-commer Xerxes Meticula, who plays an online multiplayer strategy game called the Realm with allies as diverse as a technician in Antarctica and an exploited teen girl in Bangkok. Xerxes organizes his life online in ways that he cannot match in real life, where his twin sister, Gabriella, is struggling with schizophrenia and his business partner, Zahn Mendoza, is marrying Xerxes's ex-girlfriend. In the Realm, though, he is in control, until he runs into the Two-Headed Boy, a four-time game winner who's a quadriplegic former world-class skier. They set their rivalry aside after one of its online victims becomes a real-life suicide. Though Frost's year 2000 setting can feel dated and his character development occasionally schematic, he crafts an uncommon literary illustration of the split-identity common to gamers. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/22/2007
Release date: 02/01/2007
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4668-2939-8
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