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Sword Art Online by Reki Kawahara This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.


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The brain is the “control center” of the body. It sends out signals that order our bodies what to do and how to do them. We were taught this in biology during the seventh grade. We also know that it is very hard to understand the brain since each one is slightly different. Because of this, research is being done all over the world to help us understand what controls us. Can we manipulate the signals it sends? Perhaps not now, but what if we were capable of intercepting all signals at a certain point in order to recreate it in, say, virtual reality. Enter the world of the book “Sword Art Online”, where that type of gaming experience exists. Before all gamers everywhere start to drool at the thought, there is a little bit of explaining the situation that arises in the story itself. Welcome to the future. It’s time to get caught up to speed.

The year is 2020, not all that far ahead into the future. There is now a gaming system that allows the player to fully immerse themselves in the game that they are playing. This new system is known as the “Nervgear”, a helmet that covers the eyes, and once connected, recreates the person that wears it in the virtual world. Movement is as simple and fluid as if it were real life. In fact, that’s the point. The “Nervgear” intercepts the signals the wearer’s brain sends out and converts it into action in the game. Since the signal is completely intercepted, the wearer’s cells won’t ever receive it, so the action doesn’t occur in real life. That way there is no risk of say running into a wall or unplugging the cord. The story itself kicks off with the debut of a revolutionary RPG, the first one to utilize the “full dive” experience: SAO or Sword Art Online. With this game being the first of its kind, of course 10,000 people jumped all over it, like Klein who was supposed to have a pizza delivered to his apartment, but instead takes charge of a group of his friends to struggle through the game.

The characters develop very well as the story progresses, and there are a few names worth mentioning. The main character, Kirigaya Kazuto is an average teenager, and was one of 2,000 people that were lucky enough to beta test the game. He is known in-game as “Kirito” or “the Black Swordsman”, but more on that later. The female protagonist is named Yuuki Asuna and is a member the Knights of Blood, one of the “guilds” that players form. She is famous all throughout SAO and is commonly referred to as “the Flash”. Of course, there must be an antagonist as well, and who better than the very genius behind the “full dive” experience? Kayaba Akhiko is the inventor of the “Nervgear”, and hatches an evil plan deep in the coding of Sword Art Online. There is a virtual storm coming in, and innocent lives hang in the balance.

Sword Art Online, the game that is, is a universe of itself. It is on a floating castle in the sky called Aincrad. This castle, which users may seldom see the outside of, has 100 floors, a long hike even without the monsters that are mixed in on each floor. When 10,000 players logged on for the first day, they never expected to be caught up in a fight for survival. It seemed like a glitch at first, the lack of a logout button. But soon, all of the players were gathered and told the news: they were all trapped inside SAO until someone cleared the game by surpassing all 100 floors. But there’s a catch: the instant a player’s health bar reaches zero, they die. Not just in game, but in real life. This time, the fight for survival is in virtual reality.

All in all, Sword Art Online is a great book with a well thought out plot. As the story goes on, the characters change and develop with the two years the story spans, all leading up to one great final showdown. Not only is it a good read, it was also animated and made into a show, which provides a backstory to some of the characters. People play video games, not with their mind quite yet, but sometimes don’t do all that great. Just remember that if things go bad in the cyber world now, people can always hit logout.



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