Book 2 in the Gamers SeriesIn the 2010 Chronos Award winner, Gamers’ Quest, readers were introduced to Tark and Zyra, two gutter-speaking thieves caught in a never-ending quest for Paradise. The pair fought their way through one Designers’ construct after another, only to discover the Designers had abandoned the game long ago.Having shrugged off their programming, Tark and Zyra have been replaced and are now condemned to the fringes of the game. Relentlessly pursued by balls of static that consume everything they come into contact with, it seems certain our heroes won’t last long. Then they meet another Outer, Tee, who introduces them to others who have defied the Designers’ rules. Spurred on by a mythical cheat code, which will release them from the game, Tark, Zyra, Tee and his daughter, Hope, set out to find the Ultimate Gamer—the only one who can know if the code exists. The Ultimate Gamer is someone Tark and Zyra have met before. If they can prevent him killing them—something he is determined to do, it would seem—they just might discover the truth. But the static balls, controlled by a murderous anti-viral entity, have the Ultimate Gamer in their sights. What results is a final showdown that may well result in the destruction of everything.This story challenges our notions of reality. It raises all the big existential questions, offers some answers and then turns everything on its head.Freedom is an over-riding theme throughout the story, an ultimate goal that is mentioned by the main players on more than one occasion. Rejecting their programming is the first step. The next is leaving the game forever and discovering the world beyond. Unknown to Tark and Zyra, the paradox of this is that the ‘real’ world is every bit as limiting as the game: a game within a game—perhaps an infinity of them.Teen readers will find plenty in Tark and Zyra to relate to, from the bond of friendship to their somewhat confused feelings of attraction towards each other. In many ways this is a coming of age story: What teenager hasn’t wondered about the meaning of life and tried to disentangle him or herself from the constraints of parental rule?