WARNING: There is no sex in this book. Your Kindle or other device will remain at a pleasant room temperature. At no point will your panties drop. Your significant other will be allowed to snore in peace as you read. You may, however, laugh yourself out of commission.
Not too long ago, in a town that, depending on your current location, is either not super far or actually quite close… (insert Star Wars theme music here…)
It is a time of chaotic hormones.
Two nerdy gents home for winter break have discovered a female gamer at a midnight release.
During the break, the gamer trio manages to reveal the game’s secret boss, a hidden enemy with enough power to destroy anything in its path.
Pursued by other gamers who want to be the first to beat this boss, George and Katie race to level up, and, in so doing, restore decency and sexual activity to their personal galaxy…
Cover + book design – Shoutlines Design Rating – 2/5
I think the best design in the book is the video game controller that divides George and Katie’s sections. It’s cute and I think that it should’ve been on the cover because this cover falls flat for me. I get that it’s trying to look like Mario games, but the characters and the yellow circles (are they coins?) are awkward. I like the title font, but the rest of the words are too complicated looking and the ampersand is way too close to the names. I think it could be a lot better because it just looks like a cover for a self-published book.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this book. The “warning” made me laugh, but the summary is more about their gaming quest than Katie and George’s new relationship. Backward Compatible is full of quirky characters, witty one-liners, and questionable social skills. It’s jam-packed with geeky references – possibly too many – to anything you can think of. The book is like a 60/40 split between video games and romance, with most of the romance being Katie and George just thinking about each other. This may be the perfect book for your gaming obsessed friend or significant other or sibling or whatever, even if they hate reading. However, if you don’t know what ‘backward compatible’ means, it may not be for you.
- geeky references – I appreciate most of the geeky/nerdy/whatever references – from TV, movies, games, and everything else. Seriously, think of something you’ve heard referred to as a geek thing – Star Wars, Firefly, World of Warcraft, the Hobbit, Code Red Mountain Dew – all present. It warms my geeky Joss Whedon-loving heart. While I didn’t understand every last one, there’s sure to be at least one reference for everyone.
- ages – George, Katie, and Lanyon are all 21-year-old college students who are home for winter break, which makes Backward Compatible a New Adult book. A New Adult book without sex – yay! And that’s not a spoiler, the warning is telling the truth – but the cake is a lie. I’ve been generally put off by New Adult books due to their ridiculously high amount of sexual content. I don’t like books where all the sex overshadows the actual story. This one has a great balance though – Katie and George think about their physical relationship and what they do doesn’t overpower the plot. Being on college break is a strange thing. You’re back with your parents but you’re used to being more independent. Katie’s dealing with her mom being way too excited that Katie is talking to a guy, while George’s car has issues that force him to rely on his parents for rides.
- secondary characters – The supporting characters in Backward Compatible are really funny. George’s dad is always offering everyone sandwiches, Lanyon uses the worst pickup lines imaginable, and the most surprising people end up being Fatal Destiny players. While the only other character around for most of the book is Lanyon, towards the end they gather a huge group to fight the big game boss, and I really enjoyed that part.
- quest – The epic quest that Katie, George, and their friends embark on in Fatal Destiny is pretty nuts. They need 7 different keys just to reach the practically invincible boss, and they end up with a group of 10 people trying to defeat him. I think their adventure in the game is well-described and easy to follow. Your mileage may vary depending on how video game literate you are, but since you already have to imagine everything in a book, it’s not too hard to envision. It’s like reading a fantasy novel.
- dirty jokes – A good portion of this book takes place with the characters interacting over XBox Live, an online system that lets gamers talk and play games with people all over the world. If you’ve ever been on a system like Live, you’re probably familiar with the constant trash talk, cursing, and dirty jokes – from people (mostly guys) anywhere from 10-50+ years old. George and Lanyon communicate almost entirely through sexual jokes at each other’s expense. It’s a bit much. There are about 10 to 15 guy-part jokes too many for my taste, and once the story starts involving more Fatal Destiny players it gets worse.
- Seynar – I forget if that’s his actual name, but Seynar is a sleaze and a half. At 1st he’s just an annoying guy who our heroes tolerate because he’s so good at Fatal Destiny, their video game of choice. It’s entertaining when they kill him constantly in the game, but Seynar’s behavior toward Katie during and after their single solitary date is despicable. He’s all over her despite Katie giving zero signals that she’s into him, he claims to be low on cash until Katie lets him kiss her, and he lies about he action he got on his blog. Treating girls with anything other than respect is a surefire way to never get a date again.
- POVs – Katie and George alternate telling the story. The back and forth is constant – around 5 different sections per chapter. However, Katie and George sound a lot alike so it’s hard to tell them apart. I was often turning back the pages to see who was narrating at the moment. I wish they were a bit more different from each other, and I wish they sounded more their age. Everyone comes off a little young.
- “Give me my game,” she says. “First, it is my game. The way you can tell is because I am holding it. Second, how the hell did you find me?” “It’s a small store. You ran about ten feet before you stopped. It didn’t exactly take a detective.” She puts her hand out as if expecting me to just hand over the game. I slap her five. Then she slaps me five. On the face. Sort of gentle, though, Her heart obviously isn’t in it. “I think on some planets we’re now legally married.” – Katie + George (location 90/3116)
- “Whitman?” I ask. “Did you just quote Whitman to your dad?” “George is an English major,” Lanyon informs us all. “Because he hates money and jobs.” “I see,” I reply. “Says the art history major,” Lanyon counters. “Well, at least we will raise our children in an extremely cultured refrigerator box, ” George says. – Kate, Lanyon, George (loc. 2531)
Acquired: NetGalley ebook (free in exchange for an honest review)