Fortuna by Michael R. Stevens

Longing for escape from his mundane existence as a Stanford computer science major, Jason Lind signs up to play Fortuna, an online role-playing game set in Renaissance Florence.From the first, fateful 7337093mouse click, Jason tumbles into the vibrant, lush, anonymous world of Fortuna. Swept up in this highly complex, highly addictive game of fame, fortune, and power, Jason quickly transitions from casual gamer to compulsive player.Soon tangled up in a steamy virtual love triangle, Jason becomes obsessed with breaking Fortuna’s code of anonymity. But Fortuna is anything but fun and games, and when a sizable debt incurred in the game spills over into reality, Jason is forced to leverage the legacy of his father, a high-tech legend killed in a car accident years before, to pay off the debt.What started as a great escape may only leave Jason trapped, as the game that transported Jason deep into the past exposes a shocking, present-day reality.In the world of Fortuna, it’s not how you play the game; it’s if you survive.

Although it was pretty easy to figure out the ending somewhere around the middle, I still enjoyed reading this book.  I liked Jason, although I kept wanting to yell at him about shirking his responsibilities in his real life when he was so caught up in the game.  Seeing how his personality in RL contrasted with his ingame alter ego of Father Allessandro was interesting and I observed how RL Jason evolved over the course of the story, incorporating some of his Father Allessandro traits.

The descriptions of the game provided great imagery, but the technical explanations about Fortuna and Jason’s programming were completely over my head, although I got the gist of it.  The section of the book traveling back in time, was a great addition, giving backstory on Jason’s father, Nick, and providing some explanations about Jason’s past, but it also clued me in on the ending.

Something I caught, that I have to assume was an oversight on the author’s part, was the use of Jason’s real name by another character while ingame, although Fortuna is supposed to be anonymous.  Since Jason was questioning if some people he knew in RL were playing the game, I assumed that the use of his name would confirm his suspicions, but it was never addressed in the book.

Although much of this story was improbable, it was very enjoyable and I’d recommend reading it if you’re a fantasy fan, computer geek, or gamer – or even just want a quick thriller read.

This review is based on a digital copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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