GRONE: Legends of the Known Arc Book 1
Blog Reviews

GRONE: Legends of the Known Arc Book 1

GRONE is an absolute masterpiece of science fiction. This massive tome of a tale spans literal centuries but somehow still manages to leave you wanting more, long after you’ve turned the last page and made some significant shelf space to house it. Deep in the bowels of Stanford University lies the QARMA supercomputer, run by the Orbital Arena company. It hosts a cutting-edge hyper-realistic metaverse that players from all around the world flock to for fun, fancy, and frenzy.

Players like fifteen-year-old Fiona Martinez, one of the game’s most ingenious competitors, and her twin brother, Francis. After a horrific car accident that left her permanently and severely disabled, Fiona relies on the game (modeled after the popular television show Longstar’s Rangers) to escape her bleak reality and become the beautiful and powerful Gaia, an avatar that moves through the virtual world with the grace and ease that was brutally taken from her in the real one.

After an unexpected overhaul that caused all of the AI-controlled NPCs to begin acting strangely, erratically, and almost eerily human, Fiona’s sudden invitation to an early-access beta version of a new in-game planet doesn’t seem odd in the least, even if her team seems to be the only ones actually on planet. At least, until a few impossibly high-level players appear out of nowhere and start to kill each other in ways that look too realistic to be part of normal gameplay. Before she has a chance to exit the game, she receives a phone call in real life telling her to help the wounded player bleeding out on her screen or they, and possibly the rest of the world, would all be in grave danger.

There was so much about this story that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Cumby is a master storyteller, with each chapter bringing a fresh revelation in either plot or character development, and every new twist feeding you just enough information to feel like you’re sorting through the last handful of puzzle pieces you’re almost sure belong in a different box altogether because you’ve twisted them around half a dozen times until they suddenly fit together perfectly to create an immeasurably gratifying picture.

Much like the works of Stephenson and Gibson, this book is packed with enough fast-paced action and mind-bending technological and philosophical concepts to satisfy even the most well-versed of sci-fi fans. If you loved Ready Player One or Sword Art Online and are ready for a more mature and intricately constructed story, this hard-hitting space opera epic is for you.