This is a young adult novel I read within the last 5 years, but I can't say it was new at the time.

(what I remember) Near future. The main character is a high-school boy. There is a new computer game. But you cannot buy it. Someone gives you a disk with the game copied onto it. But you have to agree to conditions: you will play only in private; you will not reveal outside the game anything that happens inside the game... After you play a while, the game starts to ask you do perform some seemingly meaningless tasks in the real world. Most of the time we, the readers, are trying to figure out what is going on: is there something sinister behind this game?

Obviously I remember this book. But I do not remember the title. What is it?

  • Several works bearing similar themes come to mind. There is some use of augmented reality games as plot points in the Stross's Halting State and Rule 34 near future scifi mystery/thillers, but the protagonists aren't teens. A sub rosa AI running on a book mediated social substrate appears in Karl Schroeder's Lady of Mazes. Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 22:08
  • The first part sounds similar to Accel World. Obviously it's not Accel World though from the second half.
    – Durakken
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 23:38
  • Part of it sounds like the short story "Maneki Neko" by Bruce Sterling, which can be read online at lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/maneki-neko ... nothing about secretly passing around the game, though. Possibly a novel from the same universe?
    – Otis
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 0:25
  • Thanks for comments so far. I edited to clarify. I have read (and loved) the Stross books. Obviously I should read these others mentioned, even though they are not the one in the question...
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 0:42
  • Is the book meant for YA (young-adults, 12-18) readers? Are the main characters YA or fully adult?
    – Joe L.
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


(Answering my own question.)

Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
published 2010 in German; English translation, 2012


From the Amazon description:

When 16-year-old Nick receives a package containing the mysterious computer game Erebos, he wonders if it will explain the behavior of his classmates, who have been secretive lately. Players of the game must obey strict rules: always play alone, never talk about the game, and never tell anyone your nickname. Curious, Nick joins the game and quickly becomes addicted. But Erebos knows a lot about the players and begins to manipulate their lives. When it sends Nick on a deadly assignment, he refuses and is banished from the game. Now unable to play, Nick turns to a friend for help in finding out who controls the game. The two set off on a dangerous mission in which the border between reality and the virtual world begins to blur. This utterly convincing and suspenseful thriller originated in Germany, where it has become a runaway bestseller.

  • 1
    Before asking the question, I searched the on-ine list of books I had checked out from my public library. Not there. I checked the books I had bought from amazon.com. Not there. I asked here. Not found. The option to keep track of the library books I check out I had only turned on 2 or 3 years ago. So finally I did some key-word searches at the library's web site. And found the book.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 17:39

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