cover image We Are Watching Eliza Bright

We Are Watching Eliza Bright

A.E. Osworth. Grand Central, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1763-9

Self-taught game designer Eliza Bright, the heroine of Osworth’s provocative debut, has just been promoted at New York’s Fancy Dog Games to develop code that allows sexual activity for the virtual reality upgrade to an online superhero role-playing game. When Eliza’s code is tagged “80085” (read: boobs), Eliza brings a complaint to the company president, and then, when she doesn’t get satisfaction, shares her treatment with the media, resulting in her dismissal. Her personnel file ends up online, leading to identity theft and having her game avatar gang raped. Eliza flees from real-world taunts and finds refuge with the Sixsterhood, an artistic co-op, and from there seeks out the identity of her principal attacker. Point-of-view shifts between the “weaponized nerd population” that blames Eliza for disrupting their favorite game and the Sixsterhood, whose members are firmly on Eliza’s side, build tension. The nerds imagine much of what happens offline, putting a spin on the unreliable narrator trope. Osworth offers a sharp take on the deeply disturbing misogyny that lurks online as well as a hopeful look at combatting it. Agent: Christopher Hermelin, Fischer-Harbage Agency. (Apr.)