World Saver by Neal Goldstein

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

World SaverMeet Cy “LUVTR41N” Orbick, a teen hooked on the World Saver computer game, and the hero of talented author Neal Goldstein’s debut sci-fi novel. Cy’s father died while flight testing a plane in New Mexico, and his mother remarried her late husband’s best friend—Captain Trent, who happened to be manning the radar when Cy’s dad’s plane crashed. Cy aspires to solve the puzzle clues of the World Saver game, and to get hired at World Saver headquarters. Little does he realize his gaming chops will be put to use helping to save real worlds.

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At the start of World Saver, Cy cares little about his failing grades, and wants to spend every waking minute playing his favorite computer game. Saving worlds is his passion, and his efforts are rewarded with clues for finding one of the marble-sized worlds that have been stashed in various locations; if he finds one, he’ll earn a summer job at World Saver Studios.

Trent seems to sympathize with Cy, and even to get a vicarious thrill from watching him play World Saver. But he has to act the tough guy to please Cy’s mom, who does not want him wasting his life on a silly computer game.

With his mom threatening to take away his computer, Cy must engage in subterfuge to continue playing World Saver and hunting down one of those all-important mini-worlds. The first major challenge Cy faces is persuading his mom to let him travel to New Mexico.

That part of Cy’s plan turns out to be easier than he imagined, because his mom’s sister lives in New Mexico. The problem is, his mom’s sister is a yoga instructor, and she is even less tolerant of computer games than his mom. Aunt Skyler wants her nephew to devote his time to meditation, learning yoga poses, and achieving internal peace and harmony…and, she has spies everywhere.

Cy must employ all his wile and tactical skills to outwit his Aunt Skyler and make his way to the Space Ranch, an amusement park operated by World Saver Studios. Following clues that include a gray-skinned man, and the letters and numbers HV397B, Cy finally finds one of those mini-worlds. When he does, the real adventure and action in Goldstein’s novel takes place, and Cy learns that the World Saver game has life-or-death implications for the inhabitants of actual worlds.

Fans of page-turning YA science fiction novels will definitely want to check out World Saver by Neal Goldstein, and to see how Cy succeeds, despite several missteps and setbacks, in becoming one of the best World Savers around. It is an adventure-filled, action-packed read that will leave you wanting more from this up-and-coming author!