Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . .
ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.
Jaxon’s first date. Ever.
In rehab, he can’t blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can’t slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he’ll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.
If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother’s absence, and maybe admit that it’s more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.
Prepare to be cured.
Description taken from Goodreads.
The Cure for the Common Universe is basically everything I wanted from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, minus the dying girl, plus video game rehab. It was funny without feeling crude, and there were tones of seriousness to its overblown, cartoon exterior.
I will say that the pacing got to me though. It got increasingly harder to deal with throughout the book. It’s like picking up a shiny new video game like League of Legends. You start out testing the weapons and going gung-ho on the enemy, but you soon realize that there’s no end. You’re fighting battles that are more or less the same in order to get enough XP to level up. And then, when you finally level up, it’s not as good as you thought it would be. Of course, in the video game world, there are solutions for this disillusionment with pacing. For example, one of my friends decided to buy league of legends accounts when he could not level up quick enough so that he could access higher-level content. But reading a book is not so simple. For some reason, you decide to continue on.
That’s basically the experience of reading Cure for the Common Universe.
The beginning is set up remarkably well. I fell in love with the story and the characters from the first few lines, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.
I was sixteen the first time I made a girl laugh.
It was an accident.
About twenty minutes before it happened, I had only one thing on my mind: protect the Mona Lisa from a horde of chipmunks.
“Squeeze a man boob for good luck,” one of the Wight Knights said through my headset.
I thought that the entire story would be like that: catching me off guard with every single line, making me laugh with the ridiculousness of it all between the paragraphs. It wasn’t meant to be. In fact, the edginess of it all drops dramatically from beginning to end, but I still enjoyed the overarching plot.
The humor in this story can be a little try-hard, but for the most part, it’s spot on. It defines Jaxon, our main character, and it helps us to get to know him better.
Speaking of Jaxon, I came to really care about him. He’s a kid that many gamers can sympathize with, and his experiences in rehab in the quest to get back to his normal life were fun to read about. But behind his facade, he’s someone who’s actually really lonely, and it was good to see the way he transformed over time. I thought Heidicker did a great job showing Jaxon’s character development after his time in rehab by showing the changes in his humor and the way he acts.
But aside from Jaxon, I didn’t really care about the rest of the characters. I knew who they were, and I had affinities for some of them, but most of them meant nothing to me. I’m sure one or two of them acted the way they did for the sake of humor, but I get the feeling that those parts didn’t work out for me the way they were meant to.
All in all, I would recommend them, but only to the right person. I may recommend it for upper MG, or for YA boys that don’t usually read books. Of course, there’s also my personal favorite Ready Player One, but I can see people loving this story more. 3 stars.