This book reminded me of a lot of things. From early-90s pop culture references to the difficulty of growing up unpopular on the poor side of town, it’s got it all. A bunch of bullies named John, a tight-knit group of nerdy friends, a high school with a 0% college acceptance rate, a town with some very odd qualities, and a strange diskette that seems to control the very nature of reality. It was, at times, a very funny story, which I appreciated. I enjoyed the characters, the narrative choices, and the ending was also pretty great.
I wouldn’t say that In Beta is a deeply philosophical novel. It’s escapism with a brain (so whatever the opposite of mindless escapism might be). I sped through it in a matter of a few days, and it’s definitely worth a read. If you’re looking for a fun book with sci-fi elements that hearkens back to the time when you were just trying to make it through Secret of Mana and avoid failing out of high school, this is definitely going to be your jam!
Sometimes a book comes from out of nowhere and surprises you with its readability. In Beta is one of those books. Read it.
If I hadn’t gotten a free advance copy of In Beta from NetGalley, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it when it comes out on July 6th (the day before my birthday, no less)! Here’s the link to put in your pre-order.