Rated 4.08/5 based on 13 reviews
Gabby DeCorte, reality-hacker extraordinaire, has been doing whatever it takes to keep her best friend, Zaela, from falling behind in LifeGame. But when a mysterious group called the Frags contacts Gabby claiming to know what really happens to the losers of LifeGame, she must choose between winning and what she believes in. More
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About Thomas K. Carpenter

Thomas K. Carpenter resides in Colorado with his wife Rachel. When he’s not busy writing his next book, he's out hiking or skiing or getting beat by his wife at cards. Visit him online at, or sign up for his newsletter at

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Reviews of Gamers by Thomas K. Carpenter

Candy reviewed on Dec. 11, 2012

Tron meets Scott Westerfeld's world of Uglies and has a blast!

Most virtual gaming stories follow the same script: people's minds are hooked up to machines while their bodies lay still and useless (think Matrix or Total Recall). Carpenter takes things to a whole new level; like upgrading from Wii to Xbox Kinect kind of level. Sitting on your butt (getting strikes in bowling just by flicking your wrist) will get you nowhere in LifeGame...unless you count 'dead' as a place to get to. Guaranteed? Not quite. That's the problem. No one knows where the losers of LifeGame go and through a chaotic and thrilling course of events, our MC Gabby is determined to find out.

Extremely creative and thoroughly entertaining, Gamers is a sure hit for science fiction and dystopian fans alike. With detailed world building and a steady pace, readers are able to immerse themselves in Carpenter's universe and hang on for the ride until the end...which is NOT the end. Thank goodness because I would not have been happy. That said, I very much recommend this book and have added the sequel, Frags, to my TBR pile. I usually do not recap or summarize a book since the authors/publishers have their own but reading some people's reviews, it seems the printed 'blurb' was not enough to pique their interest or that the story is very different than what is implied. For this reason, I have come up with a summary/blurb of my own, including a couple quotes and my two cents. Ahem:

Gabby's world is earth with a virtual layer; everything you see may or may not be real. Confusing huh?

Normally, the games painted over the objects that were already there. This one had painted over the whole world so she couldn't actually see what was there. Gabby had the sudden feeling that she was about to run into a wall and had to steel herself to take the next step.

Thomas Carpenter. Gamers (Kindle Locations 1841-1843). Thomas Carpenter.

Having the knowledge that you are blind doesn't make it any less unsettling. So what are they not seeing and why?

Day and night, Gabby is subjected to endless games to defeat and earn points. Points determine a persons' intelligence and usefulness in society. The education system is specifically geared towards improving one's success in the games.

"The first rule is what can be gamed can be improved. The second rule is that everything can be a game and the last rule is to never look backwards because the past is a game that's already been decided."

Thomas Carpenter. Gamers (Kindle Locations 99-100). Thomas Carpenter.

School is fueled by competition which makes for shallow and fake friendships. Having one true friend, Gabby will do anything to keep Zaela by her side; even if that means risking everything and hacking into the system to help Zaela stay ahead. After a suspicious and violating request is made by the LifeGame Integrity Engineers (LGIE), Gabby's dreams come to a halt. Enduring interrogations from the school Administrator and her parents, seeing a boy no one else can see, and following a group called the Frags into the unknown, Gabby doesn't know who to believe. As more characters are introduced, doubts of who to trust increase and panicked decisions are sure to be made. When Gabby and friends participate in the "Final Raid" to decide their future careers, she comes to realize that this is so much more than a game. If not played just right, Gabby wont get to live her dream life...or live at all. This is life. Welcome to the Gamers.

That was it. Any thoughts? Well I like it ^.^ I won an e-copy of Gamers through the Library Thing giveaway and spoke my true thoughts...or wrote them...typed them...I posted (there we go!) an honest review. Thank you Mr.Carpenter!
(reviewed 68 days after purchase)
Michael Burke reviewed on Dec. 6, 2012
(no rating)
A fair read in the fun, Young Adult mode of hero-adventurer. Light hearted adventure story of a dystopian RPG world which I don't understand. The story is infused with quite a lot of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Play Game (MMORPG) terminology that is and remains confusing to me who has not been involved in online RPG games. the vocabulary of "debuff" is unknown to me and remains so.
That said, the characters are flat and we don't get to know their inner core. I kept reading; so the writing, although predictable, was satisfactory.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)
Lisa Reid reviewed on Nov. 4, 2012

Disclaimer: Tom Carpenter contacted me and offered me a free copy of this book, requesting a review.

Pros: Characters are believable; plot is engaging and well-paced; the female protagonist is strong but flawed. All these are essential for a really great, immersive book. I liked it, but I didn't love it. If I could rate in half-stars, this would be 3.5, but I rounded up because I did enjoy the story and the characters.

Cons: There is a lot of gamer-specific language. I've been a gamer for years, so this didn't throw me off, but if you're completely unfamiliar with that subculture and its language, that could be a problem. Also, there were a couple of times when the niche language felt forced, like Carpenter was trying to work in a certain number of gamer terms per chapter.

The manuscript could have used a firmer editorial hand. I found at least two dozen typos, homonyms, odd word choices, and other things that pulled me out of the story. This happened frequently enough to be distracting from the story line. I found myself mentally editing the book for the last half or so. Carpenter also chose to end with a mild cliffhanger. If I like Book 1, I'll buy Book 2 without being left hanging. I prefer a bit more resolution in a book ending.

Is it worth reading? Sure. It's an interesting world that I haven't seen before. Will I read the next one? Probably, but I'm going to take a bit of a break and read something else.

Recommended for gamers and fans of dystopia and/or YA fiction, with the caveats noted above.
(reviewed 7 days after purchase)
Tabby reviewed on Oct. 28, 2012

This book is a quick and relatively easy read. Decent YA Dystopian story with one part "The Running Man," one part "Hackers," and one part "Pretties." It does take a couple of chapters to adjust to the language, but it is more readable after that. There are some pretty good action scenes throughout. I am fascinated by the young blind Frag and wish the author went into detail a little more about her.. The characters are just intriguing enough to make it hard not to want to read any possible sequels.

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Thomas K. Carpenter
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)
Stephen Merritt reviewed on Oct. 26, 2012

I received this book as a free review copy with the only expectation that I write a review. I will be buying the rest of the series to find out what happens next....
Very interesting story about Gabby a High School student in the future where everyone learns through game play. Everything can be a game being one of the rules of the time. Lifegame is the process in which everything you do is part of earning points toward entrance into college and a subsequent "good" job. The losers at the High School level are sent off to the "lesser" jobs in life. At least that is what everyone is told. Gabby is told something by a group of outcasts that shakes her world to the core. Is it true? We still don't know the real facts. This first story follows Gabby and her school friends and enemies through the end of their senior year culminating in the end of year "raid". A joint mission where groups of students follow a Dungeons and Dragons like mission shown through their lifelike visual interface to earn the final points in the Lifegame process although not everything is what it seems....
Loved the story, need to know what happens next.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Deb McNally reviewed on Oct. 26, 2012

Good Read for Gamers and Sci-fi Buffs Alike

Gamers by Thomas K Carpenter is a book that truly catches your interest. I am both a gamer and into science fiction books so this was a perfect fit for me. The game is based in a future society where in order to get the good jobs and move up the ladder in life you have to gain points in the game that is life. Completing puzzles and games helps you along the path.

The book had me on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what was going to happen next. The only thing that keeps me from giving this at least a 4 star review is the high number of grammatical errors and typos. If you can get past those you'll love this book.

Disclaimer: This book was received in a LibraryThing giveaway.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Reena Jacobs reviewed on Oct. 22, 2012

The style: Mr. Carpenter can be my Game Master any day. The novel mixed the futuristic world with the gaming world. Basically, Gabby’s life was a game of racking up points in order to reach the next level. Talk about your rat race.

It totally took me back to my EverQuest addicted days. The game talk, the leveling, the never-ending pursuit to acquire more, whether it be points, gear, etc… I was there. But it was a bit more, especially in the final raid. It took me out of online roleplaying and plunged me into paper DnD.

The plot: The story was well-paced. Once I got into it, I had a hard time putting it down, even going so far as taking it to the bathroom with me. Is that TMI? One thing I will say is Gamers seemed more like the beginning of something big. The major players were introduced but it didn’t have a sense of finality to it. It was more as if it set me up for the end of one adventure while opening the door for a whole new adventure. I haven’t read the full trilogy yet, but I definitely would say Gamers isn’t the book to stop on.

Okay… I really want to ruin this book for you with sentences that start with “like this one time…” But I know you’ll hate me for it. So… let’s talk about…

Characters: The novel was told from Gabby’s POV. She started out very much a part of the system, very focused on the end game, which in her case happened to be getting into the grand university. She reminded me a lot of the AP straight-A students I’d encountered while working in the high school. She knew what she wanted, how to do get it, and didn’t slack in reaching her goals. Yet she never acted like she was better than everyone else. She was just a regular kid (except for being a super genius) with typical problems…. well typical until the poo hit the fan. I liked her.

The other characters were rather fleeting. They didn’t take up much of my time, but each played important roles which pushed the plot forward or gave insight to an aspect of Gabby’s character of the total story. To be honest, if you quizzed me, I wouldn’t remember a single name. That doesn’t say a lot though. I’m horrible with names and even had to read the blurb to remember Gabby’s. Still, I love the cohesiveness the characters brought to the entire story. Each was rememberable (not so much the names for me but the personalities definitely). I’ve snapped a photograph of each of them in my mind’s eye.

Final thoughts: Gamers had a few loose ends which gave the first book a cliffhanger feel to it. You all know how much I hate cliffhangers. Yet at the same time, I was satisfied with the ending, especially knowing the next two books are already available.

My score? 4.5 – 5 out of 5 stars. HIGHLY recommended for RPG-ers.

I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
(reviewed 12 days after purchase)
M V reviewed on Sep. 4, 2012

If you’ve never played a video-game, you might not get some of the references in the book. So that’s your warning, and the only one I’m going to give you about this book. It opens with a bang, the action is well-paced, the characters are sufficiently interesting to make you care. The storytelling, while a bit purple at times, is compelling, and the world-building is great–fantastically original, and yet grounded and understandable. Overall, the novel is incredibly well-written. I put ALL of my duties on hold for the moment and read it in one sitting.

Five Solid Stars. SMART young adult fiction that was a joy to read.

Review provided from free e-book copy.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
Faye T. Knight reviewed on April 11, 2012

The Gaming Revolution has taken over the world. Life is a game. Everything you see has been coded. The sky, the trees, your home, friends, teachers and family - they all wear digital skins, and so do you. With your sensor suit, you can select your appearance, changing or upgrading it as often as you like. There are no bad hair days or wardrobe malfunctions. Through the ‘eye screen’ implants you wear like contact lenses, the world seems beautiful. Perfect. This is what the LGIE want you to believe.

Gabriella DeCorte lives in the world of LifeGame, where each lesson at Neversoft High is tallied in a constantly ticking point tracker. Quizzes, tests, everything is designed to be part of one life-long game. She has been building her score since childhood, increasing her rank so that she can attend Blizzard University with her best friend Zaela. Though she is brilliant, Gabby doesn’t need to study very hard. A few cheats and hacks make the tests easier. Hacks don’t hurt anyone; they only level the playing field. LifeGame is extremely competitive and there are plenty of students who deserve a little sabotage.

On a typical day at school, Gabby is suddenly pulled into the administrator’s office. Has her biggest fear come true? Has she been busted for hacking? All Gabby wanted was to enhance her and Zaela’s scores so they could stay together through college. Will she get kicked out of Neversoft?

The truth is much worse than she expected. Gabby learns that someone has been hacking her personal files, someone outside of school with ties to a rebellious group of anti-LifeGamers who call themselves ‘Frags’. To be sure that nothing has been tampered with, the LGIE, or LifeGame monitors, are demanding to take a peek at Gabby’s files. They believe the Frags are at it again, tapping into files of naïve students so they can brainwash them into joining their cause. The Frags have a bad habit of showing people what the LGIE doesn’t want them to see.

Gabby doesn’t know who to trust. Glitches have been appearing on her eye screens. First an owl, then a boy with hypnotic blue eyes. Gabby isn’t taking any chances with her personal information, not with the Final Raid just a week away. If LGIE looks at her information, they could kick her out of Neversoft for cheating. If Frags are snooping around, she could be kicked out for allowing it to continue. Gabby’s only choice is to find that boy in her glitch, the one who stopped her cold with a glance. His name is Michael. He will lead her to the truth.

In Gamers, Thomas Carpenter takes readers into a world of augmented reality, weaving science, fact, fiction and fantasy in a radical new way. His characters live in a not-so-distant future that is not-so-far-off from becoming real life. Those eye screens? Yeah, they’re real. And maybe one day video games will be layered over our world like butter on bread. Carpenter allows this question to blossom in this page-turning, keep you up at night, non-stop adventure novel that will impress any indie book lover. Be advised: Gamers is the first in a trilogy. Carpenter keeps you coming back for more.
(reviewed 48 days after purchase)
killie81 reviewed on Feb. 15, 2012

"Gamers" by Thomas K. Carpenter is a fun and enjoyable adventure through a world littered with references to video gaming, both modern and classic. As someone who grew up playing video games, I couldn't help but smile throughout the story as I recognised the various references.

The story itself follows the antics of a High School girl named Gabby. High School is this world is based around taking part in LifeGame which is a virtual augmented reality where students receive points based on various actions they may perform throughout the day. The student's score in LifeGame at graduation is then used to decide if they can go on to University or if they are demoted into taking on a "lesser" job. However, Gabby soon discovers there is more to her augmented reality than she ever knew and so begins her adventure to learn the truth whilst still trying to ensure a successful graduation.

I found the novel comprise of two parts, the first part basically set up the world, characters and overall series plot in a relatively slow and detailed manner that had me rather intrigued and interested. Then, the second part develops into an action-packed fast paced adventure through Gabby's graduation test, which takes the form of a Role Play Game (RPG) where she encounters, giants, dragons and many other fantasy related clichés. Both sections of the novel entertained me for rather different reasons. The first part got me hooked into the overall story and the opportunities that may appear in the remaining books of the series, whilst the second part just basically took me on an enjoyable ride through a virtual fantasy world that reminded me strongly of my own online RPG playing days.

One of the warnings I need to make about the book though is in relation to the language used. The story is infused with quite a lot of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Play Game (MMORPG) terminology that could be very confusing to someone who has not been involved in some of the more hardcore online RPG games. I managed to understand most of it but if for example the word "Debuff" means very little to you then you are probably going to struggle a little to follow the story. Personally, I enjoyed this use of online slang, but my wife constantly tells me I am gaming geek so that could be why.

The only issue I personally had with the novel was probably in relation to the characters themselves. They all just felt a little bit flat and un-developed, even Gabby herself didn't mean much more to me that being an intelligent hacker caricature. Some of the issue here is that the characters can change their appearance, roles and so much more based on which aspect of LifeGame there are in, therefore it is hard to really find a core personality beneath it all. I just hope that in the sequel we get to see more of the "real world" and gain a better understanding of the characters themselves.

Overall, I found this to be a fun, light hearted adventure story that offers the opportunity of a deeper and more dystopian outlook in future novels. If you are someone who has been involved in playing MMORPG over the years then I suspect you will find aspects of this book to be highly entertaining and enjoyable. The whole thing felt a little bit different from many other dystopian books which I appreciated and I now look forward to reading the sequel.
(reviewed 9 months after purchase)
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