By: Christian McKay Heidicker
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
I stumbled upon Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker completely on accident, and boy am I happy I did. I was at the Harry Potter release party waiting impatiently for midnight when this caught my eye. There it was, all bright reds and oranges popping off a background of blues and greens and whites, surrounded by identical looking paranormal romance novels with dark covers and shiny lettering. It even had an interesting sounding title. So I put it on top of my already too-big stack of books and wanted to love it instantly.
And boy howdy, I was not disappointed.
Our main character is Jaxon, or Miles, as he’s known to his fellow rehab-mates. He’s a bit overweight, prefers video games to nearly all other pastimes, and just wants to go on a date with a pretty girl he met at the car wash. The entire story is told from Mile’s point of view. He’s a somewhat unreliable narrator, and has only one goal – to get as many points as possible and leave the newly opened video game rehab center by Thursday afternoon so he can make his date with the very pretty, definitely completely normal girl he met at the car wash.
As a gamer, I enjoyed all the references to games and gaming culture. None of the references were so obscure as to shut out the casual gamer or those who’ve never picked up a game controller. The rehab center’s methodology was very interesting, too. Pandering to a gamers’ senses, they decided to make things points and level based. Eat a healthy meal, participate in group activities, etc. gets you points and levels you. The more points and levels you gain, the quicker you leave rehab. As you can imagine, this isn’t a great idea for all people.
Something I like about the book is the ending. It’s not picture perfect. The world and the people in it don’t change around Miles. Things don’t happily fall into place quite as easily as they do in the video games he loves. Not for Miles, and not for the other characters, either.
But Miles changes. He learns. He’s a very real character with some rather serious flaws, and, while Miles may not be a completely different person at the end of the novel, he strives to be a different person – a better person – and to fix the relationships that he shattered.
Cure for the Common Universe is a great debut title from Christian McKay Heidicker. I devoured this novel, and look forward to Heidicker’s next work. It was a truly great read. It was refreshing, too, to have the complete opposite of a genre I’ve been seeing a lot of lately in both novels and manga – the ‘stuck in a video game’ genre. If you love video games or young adult books you’ll definitely want to check this one out.
You like video games, you enjoy young adult books, you like stories that end realistically
Don't Read If:
You’re tired of video game related media, you don’t like semi-unreliable narrators