Travel Documents 83: Alt Control Enter

ALT CONTROL ENTER: A Battle Royale GameLit Novel (Kingsman Online Book 1)

Kody Boye

 Link To Buy

Genre: Near Future, Adventure, dystopia, GameLit

The Dust Cover Copy


I’ve always used video games to get me through the hard times, especially throughout my mother’s terminal illness. Tasked as not only her caretaker, but my little brother’s as well, I long to give them a better life and save my mother’s in the process. This is why, on the day of the Kingsman Online Regional Championships, my ranking in the horror shooter Dystopia is so important. But just when I think I have my ranked placement in the bag, a rolling blackout sweeps the city, leaving me not only devastated in the present, but hopeless about the future.

However—it seems things are not completely lost.

When a strange man claiming to be from Kingsman Online arrives and offers me the chance of a lifetime, I can’t refuse it.

The gaming company promises a completely immersive experience for their players in the regional championships.

Little do I know, I’m falling straight into a trap.

The Scene

World building

Dickens runs headfirst into Dystopia in this book. Cold nights and power-outages that kick kids out of the VR games where they’re competing for the money that might get their family out of the slums. Miserable housing, useless government, and unfair societal structures. Gaping inequality. The classic setup. To make the point just that bit more…well, pointed, the VR game is called Dystopia. Live in Dystopia, play Dystopia. Sounds fun, hunh?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
A solid and believable world setup, it’s one you can–unfortunately–see happening.

The Crowd


Sadly, the characters are pretty boilerplate. While there are some attempts to make characters feel natural through nicknames, moments of bonding and family events, they never feel like real people. They have singular drives and only rarely deviate from their story-assigned role of Dutiful Daughter, Good Friend, Suffering Mother and Wide-Eyed Sibling. It was a shame, because there was potential, but it never got realized.

The Lingo

Writing Style

And then there’s the writing. I’m sorry, but the writing needs work. Bad. Stilted phrasing and poor word choice takes a mid-level story and drags it down into the muck of mediocrity. It suffers from issues like homophone confusion–swapping exasperated and exacerbated, for example–and truly Dickensian sentence structuring. It’d work for a Victorian story, but in a dystopian work it really wrecks the immersion of the reader.
“I consider my brother’s side of the room. I listen to his breathing; soft and like a lamb, and long to slip beneath the covers beside him.”
Yeah. That’s the kind of thing going on. You can feel the whiplash when you’re yanked out of the story. Ow.
Some serious line editing and heavy work could make it workable, but right now…it’s a struggle to get through.

The Moves


A pretty basic dystopian The-Corp-Is-Playing-You story, it has its charms…but it’s really suffering from the ills above.

Overall Rating

This author could go somewhere good one of these days…but there’s a long road ahead.