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Idlewild Paperback – July 6, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Idlewild Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Billed as a near-future thriller, Sagan's first novel plods through terrain all too familiar to SF readers. The narrator awakens with amnesia in a mysterious realm easily identified as a computer-generated virtual reality, fraught with metaphors and symbols. He slowly grasps that his name is Halloween, and that he may have murdered someone called Lazarus. Eventually, he realizes he's one of a handful of high school students attending "Immersive Virtual Reality" classes at the Idlewild IVR Academy, sponsored by the Gedaechtnis Corporation, a multinational biotech company. Intimidated by the villainous teacher, Maestro, and wary of his fellow students, Halloween is determined to recover his memory, apparently damaged in a power surge that threatened to destroy the IVR, and learn what really happened to the missing Lazarus. Despite a compelling twist near the middle, the low tension and meandering plot will likely frustrate the primary target audience, mainstream fans of such futuristic action films as The Matrix and Minority Report. Sagan may not be the next Philip K. Dick or William Gibson, but he shows enough talent here to suggest he can improve on pacing in the promised sequel.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The tension is palpable from the first page as a young man recovering from a powerful electrical shock realizes that all he knows is that he's about 18 and a student of some kind--and that Lazarus is dead. Halloween, as he is known, becomes certain that someone wants him dead, too. He is one of 10 students attending an exclusive Immersive Virtual Reality boarding school while their bodies lie in a hospital attached to IVs and virtual-reality equipment. Add to the mix a hard-nosed virtual schoolmaster, virtual nannies, and sophisticated computer hacking as the teens try to manipulate the system. In his first novel, the son of Carl Sagan captures perfectly the voice and actions of a rebellious, extremely intelligent teenager. Though its appeal is much wider, recommend this mesmerizing, multilayered futuristic tale to fans of Card's Ender novels. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade; Reprint edition (July 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451212061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451212061
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,496,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Pavla V. on September 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Neil Gaiman called this book a "roller coaster ride of fusion fiction" and it's easy to understand why. This delightful and diabolically intricate creation transforms from caterpillar to butterfly by way of gothic fantasy, mystery, apocalyptic science fiction, mythology, eschatology, a coming of age story, and even a romance. Ambitious novels like this run the risk of seeming all over the map, but Idlewild hangs together beautifully, with influences from each genre synthesized and reinvented through the pen of an imaginative and strikingly original storyteller.

Sagan begins with a pinpoint focus on his flawed but likeable antihero, who must solve the riddle of his amnesia, and gradually widens the scope to explore a deeper mystery that involves the whole of humanity. Multiple plotlines thread together seamlessly as hidden layers are revealed. This is a rich, dark, compelling tale that refuses to insult the reader's intelligence. Dialogue crackles and sparkles, and the protagonist's inner monologue builds to a furiously witty fever pitch.
My only complaint would be the pacing. It's one of the fastest novels I've ever read, and I tore through it so quickly that I'm left wanting more. That's about as negative as I can be here. Idlewild is simply that good, one of those rare books that stays with you long after you've closed it.
Highly recommended for everyone, and especially for fans of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series.
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Format: Hardcover
A smooth blend of virtual reality and suspense, impressively reminiscent (to this reader anyway) of Iain M Banks (particularly The Bridge) crossed with Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash) with just a touch of Ender's Game thrown in. With the Author's heritage you might perhaps have expected a harder SF slant but this is set in the near future and is a more contemporary book touching on themes of genetics, AI/VR, and even, in an subtle way, certain comic book conventions which are used to good effect (groups of related 'special' people, each with defined characteristics and allegiances/rivalries).
I suggest that the book is best read knowing as little as you can about the plot (i.e. try and avoid reading the dust jacket description)...allowing you to enjoy unravelling events along with the main protoganist who starts the story with amnesia.
This is very much an 'origins' story and whilst it stands alone well (in the way the film Unbreakable does), I would be very surprised if a follow-up was not planned. I'm looking forward to it.
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By A Customer on January 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A friend of mine is a big science fiction fan and she gave me Idlewild for Christmas. We don't usually share the same tastes (I'm a huge mystery/thriller fan), so I acted happier about getting it than I actually was. But she promised I'd love it, and sure enough she was right!
Nick Sagan's debut novel is a literary gem and a true genrebuster. Not only did I find the plot smart and compelling and the characters well-drawn, but the writing itself is crisp and moving. The mystery keeps you guessing, but it raises deeper questions too, the kind that rise far above the average whodunit.
I sped through this page turner in three days and now can't wait for the sequel. If all science fiction books read like this one, I'd be a major fan of the genre.
Idlewild is powerful fiction, read and enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
Ten kids, growing up in a school. A virtual school, in a virtual world. Lied to by every program and every programmer about who they are, their purpose, and their future. Never knowing their real family, never knowing what real life was like. Trained to be the future elite, doctors. Trained in reality to reincarnate the world. The Black Ep has killed off everyone, so in humanities last attempt at having a future they program this world, all for training of these ten specially designed children, to grow and live in a simulation of life, as to restore real life. They hate it at the school, so want to get out to live in the "real" world, and go to a "real" school, when, in reality it is the same as the virtual world of the school, only they don't know it.
The main character, Halloween, never believed in any of this, and rebelled against it all, his teacher, Maestro; his "parents," his peers, everything.
Another character, Lazarus, is surely dead, and Halloween has been attacked, but isn't dead, and he must find who has tried to kill him and who has killed Lazarus. Nobody believes someone is trying to kill anyone, for the program doesn't want fear in its students, the program even says that Lazarus just disappeared because he "graduated." Halloween doesn't believe this, and strives to find the answer.
This has to be my favorite book in a long while. It is high-tech, yet cultured, and smart. Written in such a beautiful way you never wish to set it down... you are fully tossed into the world Nick Sagan has created. It is a dark, lonely, sad, desperate novel, in which there are lies, death, loss, confusion, hatred, and backstabbing around every bend.
This truly is a beautiful book, one of my favorites of all time. An intelligent, wonderful, detailed, emotional first novel. It's hard to believe writing can get better than this, but let's see what Sagan can do with experience.
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Format: Hardcover
Sagan's first novel surprised me in that I rather expected it to be fantasy, based on the cover. The first part of the book carried me along in that notion, but then I discovered it was so much more.
This is by no means a polished work, but it is very very good for a first novel. I've read a lot of sf, and this still managed to surprise me (plotwise). Which was refreshing.
It might not be knock your socks off good, but it's definitely worth reading. I'll be nominating Sagan for the Campbell award (best new SF Author) this year.
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