In the not too distant future, Korea has been overtaken by greedy companies. The populace forgets its poverty and hopelessness by playing a massively multiplayer online game, VOIDWAR. People are so obsessed with buying virtual goods for VOIDWAR that now they buy them with real money on credit. If they fail to pay their loan, JD does a Repo Virtual and takes back their virtual goods to their lender—for euros—not game currency.
Real life is hard. Capitalism has laid a beautiful and clean augmented reality over the city’s actual grime, graffiti and crime. But JD lives beneath the facade and makes his living as a thief. When JD’s sibling, Soo-hyun, asks him to steal back a stolen software program for its designer, Kali, he agrees.
I really want to keep explaining the plot from there—as that is the best part—but no spoilers here. However, know that Repo Virtual is much more than just the promised cyberpunk world-building and heist novel of its first half.
I don’t read much science fiction anymore as all the plots seem either all fun or all deeply meaningful and philosophical about life. Repo Virtual rather awkwardly combines them into one plot. Part one is fun and the rest is proving a point about “how we must change society before we end up like this”-type of plot. Here’s an example of what I mean from the book:
“Corporate capitalism is built on a foundation of infinite growth despite our very finite resources. We’re on track to consume our way to an unlivable planet, and no one seems to care.”
By the nature of this schism, many people may be disappointed in the overall plot. However, I enjoyed the variety of voices within this book once I overcame my disorientation. I also liked the seamless merging of LGBTQIA realities into the future’s culture. 4 stars!
Thanks to Tor Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.