Gamerunner / Mazecheat

 In a futuristic, dystopian version of London, where the polluted rain eats through unprotected flesh and gangs of feral kids roam the streets, the last corporation left in London is Crater, the creators of a huge virtual-reality role-playing computer game known as the Maze. Rick is the son of one of the designers, and he spends his days running the Maze, unthinkingly content and never questioning his life. Until one day he's asked to run a specific quest undercover, to protect his father's interests - and everything goes horribly wrong...

And then Rick is forced to confront some horrible truths about Crater, and his father - and slowly he realises that he has to escape...

For fans of The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson, Gamerunner is a non-stop action thriller, full of fights and chases and daring escapes - but with an edge of psychological menace, too.

And ta-dah! I'm delighted to present the sequel, Mazecheat...

SPOILER ALERT: Rick survives. Just.

Meanwhile, in the rain-eaten, terrifying hostile streets of London, a young Cheat called Ario is fighting to survive. Paid to produce cheat codes for gamerunners like Rick, she has to be good at what she does. The best. But when one of her clients is mysteriously defeated, she begins to realise that something, somewhere has gone wrong...

And who is the scarred, speechless boy who's been sheltering in the Cheats' commune? Why is he here? And - in spite of her initial suspicion of him - is it true that in the end he might be the only one who can save her life?

'A brilliantly written insight into a dangerously possible future' - Goodreads

'Dark, intense and disturbingly prophetic' - Booktrust

If you like Gamerunner, why not have a look at some of these books:

Blown Away, by Patrick Cave - a really intelligent, moving and complex action thriller, set in a bleak future where the brutality of the society is mirrored by a brutal reality-TV show. Think The Hunger Games, but with a bit more complexity. Interspersed with flashbacks to the past (our present), the story is gripping and ultimately uplifting. It's the sequel to Sharp North (which is good too) but can be read as a stand-alone book.

Bloodtide and its sequel Bloodsong, by Melvin Burgess - violent, poetic and horrifying retellings of the Icelandic Volsunga Sagas, set in a futuristic world of cloning and biological weapons... As well-written, ambitious and compelling as you'd expect from Burgess - i.e. very! (Incidentally, I have a copy of Bloodsong that was signed by Melvin Burgess himself the first time I met him. "Keep writting (sic)", it says. It's advice I hope to follow...)

The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks - sci-fi at its best! Banks has a talent for genuinely horrible, stomach-turning nastiness, but if you can get past that (or indeed enjoy it), this is a great page-turner and full of interesting ideas.

The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse - OK, in tone, atmosphere, narrative pacing (and indeed everything else), this is about as far from Gamerunner as you can get. But I'm going to recommend it anyway, because it's a wonderful, subtle and powerful book, following the life of a player of the mysterious and fascinating Glass Bead Game. It doesn't have many fights or car chases, but it's gripping nonetheless!