Publisher: William Morrow
Source: blog giveaway
Read: so I could move on to the 2nd book
Reading time: three days
In 2018, the Demi-Monde is an incredibly sophisticated computer simulation designed as a chaotic and unpredictable training ground for the U.S. military. Its inhabitants consist of thirty million Dupes, duplicates of actual figures from the Real World, living in a steampunkish version of world history. Its rulers include some of the most cruel, despicable, and fanatical leaders from past times, such as the Nazi Reinhard Heydrich and the Reign of Terror's Maximilien Robespierre. When the American president's daughter, Norma, is lured into this alternate world and unforeseen issues occur, eighteen-year-old Ella Thomas is recruited to enter the simulation and face the prejudice, unpredictability, and terror of the Demi-Monde in order to rescue Norma and prevent the influence of the Demi-Monde from reaching the Real World.
The world-building of the Demi-Monde is utterly fantastic. Even if you're not normally into speculative fiction, it's worth reading this book just to see the incredibly creative ways in which the author brings together some of history's most notorious figures. It's also a plus that most characters are not drawn from those one would immediately consider. Instead, there's the likes of Heydrich - also a thoroughly nasty fellow - and Lavrentiy Beria rather than Hitler and Stalin. The manner in which these and other historical figures (not all of whom are infamously nasty) are drawn together into a single world is complex and fascinating.
And besides all that, this novel is just exciting. The plot keeps moving, has the usual twists you don't seem coming (especially with the introduction of characters already known to us in the real world), and has plenty of action. It's a spectacular and fun romp through an alternate world that leaves one intrigued by what the rest of the series has up its sleeve.
Note: The Demi-Monde: Winter is the full title of this book in both the U.K. and the U.S. The titles are different, however, for the rest of the series.