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You Hardcover – April 16, 2013

3.3 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013: In Austin Grossman's You, Russell joins Black Arts, a mid-tier developer at risk of closing its doors if their next title isn't a hit. At the center of the company is WAFFLE, a brilliant game engine designed by Russell's late childhood friend Simon, whose mysterious death haunts Russell and his friends. When an unsquashable, game-breaking bug is discovered in WAFFLE, Russell quickly learns that it may be a deliberate feature programmed in by Simon. Or better put, there is literally a ghost in the machine.

You draws upon Grossman's experience as a game developer in the '90s, providing a frank and often funny portrait of a maturing video game industry (the depiction of E3, a large trade conference, is particularly delightful). But You isn't just for nostalgic gamers: beneath the techno-mystery is a story about friendship imbued with heart and compassion, a soul that surfaces like a secret glitch from the depths of its code. --Kevin Nguyen

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Grossman, author of the delightful Soon I Will Be Invincible (2007), here draws on his own experience as a video-game designer to take us behind the scenes at Black Arts Games, a (fictional) video-game company poised to release a new version of one of its biggest hits. Russell, a new hire at the company (but an old friend of the company’s founders), is thrown in at the deep end when a software bug is discovered that threatens to sink the new game. To find the source of the bug, Russell explores the history of the company, its founders, and his complicated relationships with them. Although it’s structured as a mystery—Russell tries to track down the source of the bug the way a detective might pursue an unknown perp—the book is really a celebration of video games and their creators. It’s full of terminology and dialogue that might seem like another language to the uninitiated reader (we do pick it up as we go along), but, mostly, due to his boundless enthusiasm for his story, Grossman never makes readers feel uninformed or left out in the cold. He invites us into the world of video games, introduces us to the people whose lives revolve around them, and makes us feel right at home. This is only Grossman’s second novel, but, given the strength of this and his first book, we can only await his next offering with keen anticipation. --David Pitt

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books; First Edition edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316198536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316198530
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,127,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of those books I was really looking forward to. I saw Austin Grossman at New York Comic Con in 2012 and became really excited to read this one. "Soon, I will be Invincible" was really good, so my hopes where high and all in all the book delivers.

In the heart of this book is a fantastic mystery that you really want to know how it is solved but this is where the book falls apart. The ending is quick and anti-climatic. I feel that some questions remain to be answered. Maybe it's one of those books that I need to read again to make sure I did not miss out on a key part, but all in all, it's lackluster ending just ends up hurting the book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read plenty of novels about young men and women discovering that they have an writerly calling. (Though I didn't know until recently that it's called a kuntzlerroman!) As a passionate reader, these novels are always a bit strange for me. Although I'm glad people feel the calling to write, I don't dream of being a writer. I want other people to write wonderful things for me to read! So when I read about people becoming fully themselves by becoming writers, I feel both curious and alienated at the same time.

You, though, is my kuntzlerroman. A young man learns to understand himself through games. He learns to make sense of the world through design. He learns to build relationships through play. If the main character were a woman, you could be talking about me.

What's most impressive about the novel is that it makes the romance of games come to life, without falling into the trap of romanticizing gamerliness. Yes, Grossman writes about the game industry with an insider's insight, but he uses it to scathe rather than soothe. (For example, I cackled wildly over Pro Skater Endoria.) Our hero, Russell, is not a "gamer," nor does he become one over the course of the novel. Rather, he uses games in the way that other kuntzlerroman protagonists use books, or art, or music. Games become a tool for confrontation with the self and reconciliation with the world.

This is not a novel that will pander to you. It's a smart and sophisticated book, and Grossman doesn't hold your hand. The story jumps between past and present, between hard-edged realism and lyrical fantasy; it explores some of the great game design debates of the past thirty years; the protagonist works through his own history alongside the history of games in a psychologically astute way.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was born in '69 and remember when the PET computer was unveiled at my school. I spent long summers playing Archon and role-playing games in Jr. High while my friend's dad burned games he programmed into EEPROMs in the kitchen cabinet. Later, I worked at a company not unlike Black Arts, the fictional game company in You. I mention this all because this book brings up a lot of nostalgia that likely makes my review very particular. Take it with a grain of salt. I would likely have enjoyed this almost great book more if it didn't suck me back to my often-painful adolescence. Anyway . . .

Reamde and Ready Player One cover some of the same ground, but are more exciting. You is more literary perhaps, and definitely has more soul. Still, I would have given it 5 stars had it been a bit more, I don't know, exciting. If you like those two books, You is a must-read.

The narrative shifts from waking to dream to "other" (I don't want to give too much away) were brilliant and gave the story a nice surrealist feel that nicely echoed the all-night gamer/programmer delirium that permeates the story.

TL;DR - Good, but could have been great with more suspense and/or action.
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Format: Hardcover
REVIEW SUMMARY: Provides an interesting look behind the scenes of video game development, not such a strong story.

MY RATING: 2 stars

SYNOPSIS: After years of drifting through post-college life Russell joins Black Arts, a video game developer founded by friends of his from high school. He is unexpectedly thrust into a leadership role and forced to solve the mystery behind a bug that could ruin the new game and have more far-reaching consequences besides...

PROS: Written by someone with experience in the field, gives a sense of appreciation for things largely taken for granted in video games.

CONS: Nostalgia is expected to carry much of the book, very little conflict, uninteresting and shallow characters, confusing format and perspective shifts.

BOTTOM LINE: There is probably enough decent material here to fill a movie, definitely not enough to float a 400 page novel. There's too much nostalgia and not enough substance.

You get a package in the mail from SF Signal. You rip it open, it's Christmas in May! Inside is a hardbound copy of Austin Grossman's latest novel, a fictional look inside the world of professional game makers. You're excited to begin reading it. You haven't read Austin's Soon I Will Be Invincible but it sits on your overflowing shelf. You've seen some great review for Austin's latest, comparing it to Ernest Clines's Ready Player One and Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. You have read (and loved) The Magicians and The Magician King, books written by Austin's brother Lev Grossman. You are anxious to begin and so you curl up on the hideous burnt orange couch in the living room and start reading.

From early on you develop a personal connection with the book.
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