Summary: On a bitter cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even 25 years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.
Review: Let me say from the outset that I do not play video games yet I absolutely loved this book. It seems like a book that only gamers would understand, but gaming is really only the backbone of the story. Aspects of the book that I enjoyed include the friendship between the three main characters, the overall discussion of Sam’s disability and how he deals with and ignores it, and how I went from liking one character to intensely disliking their choices. For most of the book, I felt bad for Sadie and the sexism she faced, being one of the few women at MIT and in tech, then taking on the bulk of the programming work with Sam. It definitely took a toll on her, as did other events in the book. Then there was her relationship with her professor. And I wished Sam would let his closest friends know what he had gone through so that those around him could understand him, but I get that it’s not easy for him. He seemed like he had an entire interior life hidden away from his friends. The book explores layers upon layers with the characters, and it was impressive how the author was able to keep my attention.
As much as I liked the ups and downs of the friendship between Sam and Sadie, it was really Marx that made the book for me. I wish we all had a Marx in our lives—someone to handle all the little things that came up and also to be our cheerleader, telling us that it would all be ok. I can’t say enough good things about this novel!