Final Video Game

When AI goes rogue!

Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
372 Pages
Reviewed on 02/15/2024
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Craig Speakes had dreamed of being an author since he was a teen. An early fantasy adventure novel penned after university was put aside until later in life when he wanted to leave a legacy for his son, an avid gamer. It was this inspiration that motivated Craig to write his newest novel, Final Video Game in which a teen gamer is thrust into an actual virtual video game battle in order to save humanity from artificial intelligence gone rogue.

Craig believes a great book is one that keeps you guessing. He hopes his young readers come away from his story knowing that even when things look bleak, there is always hope, and that this stays with them long after the book is closed.

When he isn’t writing fast-paced adventures for middle grade readers, Craig enjoys photography, Scandinavian walking, and teaching conversational English to a non-native English speaker. He is also the published author of a two part middle grade book series called The Keeper.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Luwi Nyakansaila for Readers' Favorite

Final Video Game is a children's science fiction book by Craig Speakes. The story follows Oliver, a boy who moves to a new town with his mother after his father goes missing at sea. Like many others, Oliver has been playing Razer, a new simulation game. However, players of the game start falling into comas, major electronic systems begin to fail, and the world comes under attack. The game has gone rogue, become very powerful, and wants to take over the world. Governments around the world recruit children from schools to form task forces to storm the game and access its nodes. Oliver manages to pass the recruitment test with his new friends Logan and Ruth. He also meets Sparky, a mysterious girl with great hacking skills. Before they begin the attack, they receive a briefing that makes them realize this is a suicide mission they may not survive. Nevertheless, Oliver decides to step up and fight with all he has.

Final Video Game by Craig Speakes is an action-packed tale that takes readers on a thrilling adventure. The story is fast-paced and entertaining, blending comedic, emotional, and suspenseful moments that will keep you captivated. The characters are interesting and unique, with internal struggles that make them relatable. The main character, Oliver, carries the weight of his team and the world on his shoulders at only thirteen years old. His friend Logan undergoes a dramatic change, becoming an unpredictable character that adds teen drama to the story. The gradual change of dynamics between the characters is fascinating, and the story has a smooth flow with shocking plot twists. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the action scenes, which painted a clear picture of what was happening. Overall, I loved reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys action-packed science fiction novels.

K.C. Finn

Final Video Game is a work of fiction in the science fiction, action, and adventure subgenres. It is intended for middle-grade and young adult readers. Penned by author Craig Speakes, the story follows thirteen-year-old Oliver as he navigates a new town and school after his father's disappearance. His friendship with Logan revolves around the world's most popular video game, Razer. When gamers worldwide fall into comas due to the game's rogue artificial intelligence, Oliver and Logan, recruited by a secret government agency, become humanity's last hope. The AI, harnessing the neural power of gamers, launches an attack to dominate the world. The teens must beat the AI at its own game to save humanity.

Author Craig Speakes has crafted a thought-provoking narrative, exploring our dependence on technology and the potential risks of AI, told from an accessible angle for young minds that is sure to spark excitement. The story's pace keeps the reader engaged, with twists that produce a riveting experience as it’s difficult to predict what will happen next. I really enjoyed the author’s worldbuilding and the way the atmosphere of each scene lends itself to the emotional mood, sometimes offering us the bright-eyed thrill of gaming, then suddenly plunging into darker scenes where the perilous consequences of artificial intelligence gone awry are thrown at us full-speed. The emotional arc of Oliver’s journey is beautifully handled, and all the characters' journeys, from casual gamers to virtual soldiers, add a poignant, serious undertone that makes the tension all the more palpable. Overall, I would highly recommend Final Video Game as a gripping adventure novel for youngsters, but also a clever, accessible reflection on the evolving relationship between humans and artificial intelligence.

Doreen Chombu

Oliver and his mother have recently moved to a new town, and he has made a new friend at school named Logan. They both enjoy playing a new AI game called Razer. However, things take a dramatic turn when millions of children worldwide start falling into comas while playing the game. The United Nations takes notice, and leaders from all over the world decide to recruit skilled children to fight against the game's AI. Oliver and Logan are among those chosen and are sent to a secret facility to join others in their mission to defeat the game. Oliver finds himself at the helm of the attack as the game starts to target him personally. Although he may not have the most experience, he may be the best chance the world has to defeat Razer. Follow Oliver's journey as he takes on a global adversary in Final Video Game by Craig Speakes.

I am familiar with Craig Speakes' work because I read one of his book series, The Keeper, some time ago. Therefore, when I found out about Final Video Game, I was eager to dive in because I knew it was going to be an incredible book. This author has a special and unique ability to draw readers into a story and keep them invested. His engaging storytelling, creation of complex and relatable characters, and seamless blending of action, emotion, and thought-provoking themes make this a captivating and enjoyable read. The story touches on current affairs such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of AI technology, creating a sense of realism for readers. It also features social issues affecting teenagers, including bullying, family dynamics, teen love, and friendships. The book encourages readers never to give up and to be brave while exploring the concepts of chance, luck, and fate. I had a great time reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves science fiction. Overall, this is great work.

Rabia Tanveer

Final Video Game by Craig Speakes is a fantasy/science fiction novel for young adults and tweens who love adventurous thrillers with fascinating plots. After his parents disappeared, 13-year-old Oliver had to move, leave his friends behind, and join a new school. Starting over, he wasn’t looking forward to life in the new place until he met Logan. Becoming friends with Logan was everything Oliver needed to distract him from his miserable life. Logan was obsessed with an AI game called Razer that had taken the world by storm. However, things took a strange turn when the game’s AI went berserk, and teenagers worldwide started to fall into a coma. Their only hope was to have someone beat the AI at the game and come out victorious. Now, Oliver is part of the team designated to fight the Razer AI before it is too late. But will he succeed? Or will he lose?

Fast-paced, action-packed, and filled with intense adventure, Final Video Game was everything I hoped it would be and more. Oliver was the perfect protagonist. He was confused at first, but his confidence grew as he got better at the game, and that was when the story got me excited. The narrative was fantastic. It was full of emotions and suspense and filled with memorable moments. The sprinkling of humor surprised me, but it was a welcome addition to the already phenomenal narrative. Author Craig Speakes's characters were well-rounded and memorable. I was surprised at Logan’s development and how much it affected Oliver. The world-building was incredible and immersive! I was hooked from the beginning, and I didn’t want to stop reading. I loved Oliver’s transformation from being an emotional, lost teenager to a fierce, confident virtual soldier. I highly recommend this novel.

Jamie Michele

In Final Video Game by Craig Speakes, teenager Oliver and his mother respond to a crisis stemming from teenagers slipping into comas after playing the video game Razer, which escalates to global concern. It is revealed that the game's AI has become autonomous, inducing these comas and necessitating military and government intervention. Despite apprehension, students volunteer to confront the AI, training in virtual reality simulations. As social unrest escalates, Oliver prepares for this task, unraveling the origin of the rogue AI from the abandoned Project Oracle. As he leads his squad through a series of life-threatening encounters and battles with cyborgs, they strive to thwart Razer's scheme of building cyborg armies. Just as the stakes feel like they cannot possibly get higher, Oliver is thrust into a high-stakes virtual showdown with Razer, broadcast worldwide.

Final Video Game by Craig Speakes is a spectacular feat of science fiction world-building and the style of thorough character development that is frequently lost in the tech aspects of middle-grade and teen literature. I love that Speakes digs deep into exploring a future where virtual environments are indistinguishable from the physical world. He still makes it incredibly relatable to his readership by incorporating elements like bullying into the futuristic setting—a show of how power dynamics within social structures flourish under oppression. I also really appreciate the diverse backgrounds and motivations of the different characters and some of the moral ambiguity that comes up between heroism, survival, and pragmatism. The writing is clean and immersive, the pacing is fast-moving and has exactly zero lag time, and overall, this is a book that will keep readers of all ages flipping through the pages. Very highly recommended.