Disclaimer: I’m not trying to be mean just for the sake of it, I just have a strong opinion on this book.
This was posted in a chat room that I’m a part of about a week ago, and I got a chance to read the first 2 chapters (free trial thing).
After reading what appears to be a sizable chunk of this book, I think I can give it a fairly objective review.
Honestly, it’s not great. The language used makes it seems like it was written by someone with not but a basic understanding for how an interesting story is put together, and even less of an understanding for how VRC works.
I’m not saying that I could do any better. This is a million times better than anything I could ever hope to come up with - but then again I’m not a published author. Mr. Miles here is.
There were some specific moments in the preview that stood out to me as particularly bad. For example, let’s take the very end of chapter one. When I was reading over this section of the book, I quite ironically found the description of the team “The Best” severely irking. Miles mentions how this team always introduces themselves by saying: “‘Hey y’all, we’re The Best’”. For a number of reasons, no one in VEX talks like this. First of all, it’s unsportsmanlike to do so. Bragging and boasting about how great you are (and by the transitive property, how bad everyone else is) is a great way to find yourself disqualified from judged awards like Excellence and Design. Secondly, it’s a bad idea to be cocky, especially during a tournament such as this one where advantages can shift in an instant. I think you would have a hard time finding any real team who describes themselves like this fictional team does.
“The team named The Best was extremely annoying” (Miles). I’d like to point out here that if I submitted this sentence as part of a creative writing assignment in my English class I’d be laughed out of the room. Adjectives like “annoying” tend to sound bland when used in more complex narratives like these. Additionally, “annoying” is subjective. There is no objective way to define someone as annoying. A character could feel that someone was annoying: “Kenzie felt that “The Best” were annoying people to talk to”, but the way that Miles set up this sentence feels lazy, uninteresting, and is not conducive to the telling of a good story.
These two examples were just from a single paragraph of the book’s 4-chapter preview. I could go on listing other very fundamental faults in the storytelling, but I feel I have already made my point with just the two.
While I greatly applaud the time and effort Mr. Miles has put into this book, from both a literary and technical perspective I simply cannot recommend it. The writing feels… off… in many places, and Miles seems to be in a sort of uncanny valley between knowing enough and not knowing enough about VRC to write a book about it. It seems vastly too technical about such a niche hobby from an outsider’s perspective, and not nearly accurate enough from a competitor’s.
Once again, I appreciate the effort that has been put into this book, but I don’t feel that the level of writing here is worth spending $12 on.