Austin Grossman’s You promises a fresh perspective on video games, with emphasis on how they are created and how they affect players, but ultimately fails to deliver. Russell, the protagonist, begins working as a game designer and attempts to find a bug in the code by playing through other games by the company, Black Arts Games. The writing is mostly descriptions of Russell’s experiences with the games, and almost nothing significant happens in the book’s reality.
The storyline started out a little far-fetched and rapidly devolved into a baffling wandering between several video games (each of which had enough description to bore but not enough to fully immerse the reader), Russell’s imagining of the characters in the video games, and Russell’s attempt to fix the bug. Also disorienting are the many sudden time and point-of-view shifts, and the incredibly blurred distinctions between the games, Russell’s imagination, and reality. The characterization was not much better. The reader learns almost nothing about Russell; the supporting characters, while very cookie-cutter, at least had definable personality traits.
In short, You spectacularly failed to live up to the high expectations it established, leaving me disappointed and at a loss as to what the purpose was. – Tasha M. ’20