January 09, 2022

Ron Walters: "Deep Dive" (ARC Review)

Title: Deep Dive  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Ron Walters [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller/Mystery, plus a third one I won't disclose because it would be a giant spoiler...If you want to go into the book without knowing anything vital about it, I recommend that you not read the Labels at the end of my review either. No need to worry though - the review itself will be spoiler-free...
Year: 2022
Age: 14+ (I shelved it as Adult because of the characters' age, and it has definitely more of an adult appeal, but it can be read by teens) 
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: High-octane ride full of surprises and interesting (if far-fetched...but hey, that's the thing with sci-fi 😉) VR concepts.
Cons: The premise, when revealed, needs you to suspend your disbelief. You get the sense early on that, despite the number of possibilities (and of ways to get closure), there's only one ending that you may expect...
Will appeal to: Those who like a sci-fi story with a strong thriller edge, but with familial love at its core. 

Blurb: Still reeling from the failure of his last project, videogame developer Peter Banuk is working hard to ensure his next game doesn’t meet the same fate. He desperately needs a win, not only to save his struggling company, but to justify the time he’s spent away from his wife and daughters. So when Peter’s tech-genius partner offers him the chance to beta-test a new state-of-the-art virtual reality headset, he jumps at it. But something goes wrong during the trial, and Peter wakes to find himself trapped in an eerily familiar world where his children no longer exist. As the lines between the real and virtual worlds begin to blur, Peter is forced to reckon with what truly matters to him. But can he escape his virtual prison before he loses his family forever? (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Angry Robot for providing an ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


When I requested Deep Dive, I thought I knew, more or less, what I was getting into...I was expecting a Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle scenario (minus the random avatars - and the jungle, of course 😉) and a classic quest story, if with a prominent family angle...but the combo of virtual reality + alternate one was too alluring for me to resist. Now, without spoiling the book, what I can tell you is that the story is far more creative than I expected (and much wilder - but more about that below). VR does play a big role in the plot (duh), but not exactly in the way you might think. And while there's something familiar in Walters' version of the cyberspace - at least for those of us who consume VR-related media - he sure put his own spin on it. I loved the broader scope of the virtual scenario and its inner workings, and I was a little bummed that we didn't get more of that (mind you, rightfully so, since 1) it's not what the story is about, and 2) it's part of a late reveal), because it was really cool. 10/10 would read another book set in the same universe. [...]


Going into Deep Dive, I didn't expect it to be a thriller as much as a sci-fi novel. Which will appeal to a lot of people, so it's not a bad thing per se, but it's not my favourite type of story, so I didn't particularly vibe with that side of the plot (and I still think that a certain secret meeting early on was a bit overplayed, or at least the deceptive way in which it started - and went on for a while - was). Also, while I can suspend my disbelief like a champion, the VR here hinges on a concept that's definitely far-fetched - though on the other hand, it makes for an exciting adventure and I don't regret going along with it one bit 🙂.


As for the family and redemption arcs, I liked what Walters did with them, with some small reservations. The protagonist's daughters in particular come alive in multiple ways, both in Peter's supposed memories and his alternate reality, and the love he has for them and his faith in their existence are palpable and heart-warming/wrenching. I will admit that the domestic dynamic as a whole - workaholic husband and father with a forgiving family and a guilt complex that won't prevent him from putting his job first - is a bit "been there, seen that". All in all, though, what some aspects of the story lacked in originality, the other ones more than made up for. Packed with action, fueled by feelings, peppered with humour and with a strong (if wild) speculative core, Ron Walters' debut book has something in it for everyone.

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  1. I just wrote my review for this book! We have some similar thoughts, although I rated it a little higher. I read it so fast! I couldn't put it down, and I loved some of the emotional situations Peter found himself in. I thought the book could have been longer and the end felt rushed to me. But a lot of fun!

    1. It is, indeed, one of those books you gobble up. Maybe a bit implausible, but hey, we read to entertain ourselves, don't we? 😉

  2. I don't have any issues suspending disbelief. I would think it even easier when reading SFF books. Not home run, but it sounds like the book was a satisfying read for you.

    1. It depends for me. But it was worth it here!

  3. I haven't read this but it does sound like it was a good read.

  4. This is so interesting to me because I've been reading about simulation theory/ parallel universes/ VR type stuff lately. And... as I read your review I'm starting to wonder about your hints. :)

    And yes that trope of overworked/ neglectful dad is a bit done, but sounds like overall this is an interesting one!

    1. LOL, no spoilers! But...you're onto something 😉.

  5. This sounds fun! I do have a bit of trouble with the suspension of disbelief in general (yes, even in sci-fi, heh) but it sounds like it is entertaining enough to be worth trying! Glad you mostly enjoyed it, great review!

    1. Thank you! I hear you...some "things" work better than others for me in that respect...though I've seen Doctor Who episodes where suspending disbelief was the very point, and I've loved them LOL.

  6. Not something I would grab just like that, but that is why I need reviews :D

  7. I might give this one a try because I am a fan of more thriller-type books, and this sounds like it might be a novel to help ease me into more sci-fi! (A small note but I do love how you include a "this might appeal to" in your reviews because reading that portion of your post allowed me to think about what I might appreciate about the book along with your qualified criticism.) :)

    The only book I've read that sounds like it has maybe a similar premise (at least in terms of virtual reality ?) is the Warcross series by Marie Lu, but in those books people intentionally live in a virtual gaming reality to up their social standing through winning virtual competitions.

    claire @ clairefy

    1. "I do love how you include a "this might appeal to" in your reviews because reading that portion of your post allowed me to think about what I might appreciate about the book along with your qualified criticism".
      Oh, wow. Thank you so much!

      I've seen Warcross around, but it sounds like Book 2 disappointed even lots of the hardcore fans of the first installment...It's a pity, because the concept is so neat.

  8. Sounds like an interesting premise, even if it wasn't exactly what you expected it to be.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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