Echo’s Hunt: Sean Austin
Virtual reality is something created by video fames to bring users into another world they pretend to experience. From war games, violent scenes and graphic depictions of actions that you and other players control each one using their own skills and expertise decides on who lives and who dies within the constraints of the game and hoping for their opponent’s demise. Some take it so seriously they don’t realize that it is all staged and not real life. Others as you will learn when you read Echo Hunt became so enounced within the game they actually treat the outcomes, decisions made and the power their opponents exhibit as real life. Within the confines of this game there are many different stages and gaming creators often add different elements to each level. Two brothers playing this game as if their lives depended on it as the scene opens and Reggie, the older of the two is battling the mechanized ghouls using the technology created by the creator but, what happens next and where this leads him will definitely make anyone think twice before playing these games. The screen continues to fill with images and the predator appears to be hunting you and then disappears and is hiding in plain sight. An invisibility cloak of some kind and then he resurfaces with his demonic green eyes and sharp teeth. Echo is dangerous and is one predator you don’t want to get too close to. Jeremy his lookout warns him of imminent danger but Reggie is so skilled and far above his competition that it is no surprise that he is asked to join a focus group with other online gamers to try out the latest version of Echo.
Reggie and Jeremy live with their mother and her abusive boyfriend Asa. Asa towers over them and does nothing, to his mother’s ignorance to help them at all. Never doing anything but drinking and watching television he lets them fend for themselves in every way. When Reggie receives a letter to join this focus group unless they pay him Asa will not sign the form. But, Reggie is smart and finds a way to create the signature needed and the experience the author relates is really quite chilling. Meet the gamers that he will compete against and who all want him on their team. From Spandex who turns out to be a girl whose presence greatly affects him to Rhino a tough competitor Reggie is pumped and excited to be a part of this group. The person in Luca gives off an air of deceit from the start trying to prod the teens into answering certain questions that he has preset answers for in his own mind. As the teens relate their concerns when playing these games as worrying about the element of surprise, how many enemies they will encounter, will someone have too much power of them or even just the unknown element of fear. Fear is deadly and that is what is added to this new version of the game and the leader, Luca wants them to realize that these games can often mirror real life situations. Some are hunted, some are in confined spaces and some alone at times and others controlling your thoughts and mind. But, before he leaves to go home he meets Sean Austin who presents him with something special in case he needs him and a special gold pin with the Echo code on it in case he needs him. Going home proves dangerous as Asa is right there and realizes that he defied him leading both boys to want to permanently escape. But, there is one piece of the game that has yet to be explained or played and that concerns their father who appears to have left them but contacts them by phone every two weeks. Fearing that the truth about their conditions would cause them more harm than good they lie and tell him everything is okay. But, when push comes to too much shove they both decide to leave and head for their father in California.
Meeting one man named Pete and then realizing that all of the gamers were being kidnapped and on milk cartons alerted both boys that they really needed to hide but what happens next leads them on a different path and they are taken by another group who seem to be playing the same game but more deadly. Added in Reggie does not realize his GPS was alerting everyone to their location and escaping the police would require some skill. Arriving in California after experiencing a ride that they would never forget Reggie emails the man in charge of the focus group and then learns of more gamers being kidnapped. Who is really behind it and why has yet to be revealed and who can these boys really trust? What role does Asa have in this plot? What is that book he has and why are they able to keep getting rides and help from strangers? Could someone actually know where he or she is and what about Echo?
The author allows the reader to understand the rationale behind Reggie’s every move and thought while letting you know that someone is tracking them. Should he call Luca to warn him about the kidnappings? Where will they wind up and will they ever find his father? Who else will be kidnapped and who is setting the trap? Where are these gamers? But, winding up at their father’s house and hoping to not get caught does not happen as Echo hunts them down and just when they think they are home free they are caught and zapped by two Racer Shockers and held captive. How did Echo 7 find them and in what forms can it turn into? What exactly is this new game that has been programmed to follow and control them? Imagine a video game coming alive.
Zapped, overworked and conditions that are unhealthy with air filled with dirt, sage and dust these young teens are now mining crystals for their captors in a place called the Cauldron Of Hell for what appears to be eternity. But, who is behind this has yet to be revealed and how can Reggie save the day? What does the Army and a secret file that they found on the computer have to do with Echo? Just what does this software do and why are they controlling the minds of these teens?
As master plan created by the game itself and Echo is using the world and playing it as its game board and seeking revenge but why? What code is imbedded somewhere within this and can Reggie save all of the lost teens before more are zapped, eaten and minds are destroyed?
A battle that you won’t believe and two young teens that will definitely surprise you as Reggie and Jeremy take on Echo 7 and you won’t believe what happens. With the rest of the kidnapped gamers turning against them and one clever computer game holding all of the shocks, waves and zaps can one 14 year old and one 11 year old out fox or zap this powerful enemy? What finally happens you will have to find out or play the game and take your chances to win or lose? What is next for Reggie and what happens to Jeremy? Will HAkr ever stop stalking and taunting him? Is Echo dead or is He still watching him and everyone else? Find out when author Sean Austin releases: Echo’s Revenge the Other Side. This might give teens and adults second thoughts about playing these games or it might make them want to get their own version of Echo and try to see if they can defeat him. This is a fast paced book that I read in one hour because I could not put it down.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
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