Deep Dive

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Pub Date 11 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 04 Jan 2022

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When your reality shatters, what will you do to put it back together again?

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?
When your reality shatters, what will you do to put it back together again?

Still reeling from the failure of his last project, videogame developer Peter Banuk is working hard to ensure his next game...

Advance Praise

"This was a tightly crafted, super fun, and original take on the virtual reality rabbit hole, and I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough." – Chris Panatier, author of The Phlebotomist

"Will keep you turning pages until late into the night. Ron Walters is an author to watch!" — Kristin Wright, author of The Darkest Flower

"A sci-fi treat!" - Hayley Stone, author of Machinations

"This was a tightly crafted, super fun, and original take on the virtual reality rabbit hole, and I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough." – Chris Panatier, author of The Phlebotomist

"Will keep you...

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ISBN 9780857669261
PRICE $14.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 29 members

Featured Reviews

Strap in, it's about to get bumpy. This book is a wild ride that shoots straight into the action, and doesn't relent until you turn the last page and peel your body out of the groove you've worn in your sofa from reading this in one sitting. Peter, a video game developer, has a great life, loving wife, incredible kids, but he has a habit of putting work ahead of his family, thinking it's just now, just until the next game is done, the next level of success achieved. While testing an immersive VR unit, things go sideways, and he finds himself in a world he recognizes, barely. Is he stuck inside the simulation? Or did he just exit the VR into his actual life? Dear reader, you might think you can second guess where this book is going, but surprise revelations around every turn of the page will keep you on your toes. Beyond the breathless pace of this book, there are some fundamental questions Peter grapples with, from what defines success, what makes a life well lived, what has he taken for granted, and which version of reality would he choose. This is a smart, utterly absorbing adventure for fans of Philip K Dick, Ready Player One, The Matrix, and simulated RPG, like Second Life. Be cool. Read this book.

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I keep trying to think of reasons to give this book less than five stars because I like to be stingy with that rating. But it feels so wrong giving this book anything less than a full five!

This is a sci-fi thriller that is perfect in virtually every way. It follows Peter, a video game developer, who tries a fully immersive VR headset developed by one of his business partners. After removing the headset, he finds himself in a world where his own memories don't match with the memories of everyone around him.

The writing style is easy to read and flows nicely. The dialogue feels natural and the story never felt either too rushed or too slow.

The thing that knocks this book out of the park for me is how strongly we could feel Peter's emotions, especially his desperation to get back to his children, through the writing. My heart was constantly pounding and I NEEDED to know what happened next.

While this was definitely a plot-driven book, another reason that Peter's feelings felt so real was that we learned so many details about his life that made us deeply care for Peter's desire to get back home.

I will be recommending this like crazy!

Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for the gifted eARC!

I would say that the concept itself isn't entirely innovative, but the execution is absolutely flawless.

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Not many books can handle reality shifts well; you tend to either get "new reality is entirely different" books (with exploration and attempts to get home) or "new reality only has slight differences and the protagonist doesn't notice right away" type novels (horror especially likes this). Ron Walters' Deep Dive straddles the line between the two expertly, and slowly releases more and more information through the eyes of his protagonist, and when the reveal hits, wow. Walters' characters are genuine and well-based, with decisions and actions flowing cleanly from their histories. The book seems to flow quickly, but that's just because of how well you're pulled in to the story by the crisp writing and fast-paced story. Definitely one worth a read.

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This is a story about virtual reality and the setting is recognizable as similar to today’s 2020s. 3.5 bumped up to four.

The main character is a game designer/developer and his best friend/inventor has just developed VR goggles that provide a seamlessly immersive experience.

He tries out the VR goggles and enters another dimension that is confusingly similar to real life but also dangerous. His experiences are narrated in the first person present, so the prose packs a punch as we step into his shoes rather than keeping a writerly distance.

Even with all the action it’s clear the main character is thoughtful, contemplating what makes a well-lived life, instead of avariciously wanting that greener grass.

The story is exciting and the pace is breakneck and I could not eat, drink, or put the book down until I finished it.

Thank you NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my feedback.

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I got the opportunity to read Deep Dive by Ron Walters, a fast-paced sci-fi enigma that kept pulling me in with every turn of the page. Deep Dive is a reminder that warped reality can still be executed particularly well in the right environment and Walters has pulled this off in a twist of action and angst.

Deep Dive is a novel about game developer Peter Banuk who works hard to ensure his latest game does not fail like his last project. In an effort to justify the time away from his family, his genius partner offers a beta test of a new VR headset and Peter jumps at the chance. But during the trial something goes wrong and Peter wakes to find himself in a familiar world where his children no longer exist. He must now escape this virtual environment and get back to his children but what if there are no lines between real and virtual?

This was a colourful, impressive idea that was executed incredibly well. I soared through this relentlessly and Walters definitely had the writing ability to keep me excited but stressed when trying to unravel the mystery that surrounds Deep Dive. Filled with twists that left me guessing, this explores the idea that virtual reality can be so vividly real and it is a testament to Walters writing that I felt this way. Walters described fantastical scenarios with crisp ease that kept a fast-paced story flowing genuinely well.

This was definitely worth the read and is a great novel for those wanting a slow-release science fiction story that straddles the line between "what if" and "reality.

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I love books with this premise so I was really excited to dive in (see what I did there?). It's definitely the kind of story that keeps you wondering what is actually going on and how it's all going to play out. If you like Blake Crouch you'll love this book.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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My favorite way to go into some books is blind. I did not read much about the story except a quick skim of the synopsis, picking out keys words instead of an idea of the story. I did know that this would be good because Deep Dive is being published by Angry Robot and their quality of books has been elite.

I started the first few pages of the novel and I was hooked. Peter Banuk is trying to save his video game development company from bankruptcy because their last project bombed. His balance between home and work life does not exist, and before he knows it, Peter is going to work on his daughter’s birthday to test an experimental virtual reality headset. The next thing he knows, Peter is waking up in the middle of the night in his truck to a life that does not look familiar at all. The rest of the novel is him trying to figure out what has happened and how he was going to return to his family, while many people are trying to stop him from talking, by any means necessary. While he tries to navigate his new reality, he is also trying to figure out how to get back home to his wife and children. This road is filled with danger, secrets, and things he just does not remember, and the peril that he faces keeps the novel moving at a incredibly high speed.

There are many underrated subgenres of horror, some of them not even considered horror at all. Many might not think of Deep Dive as a horror novel, but there is nothing more frightening than the predicament Peter Banuk finds himself in. Technological horror, waking up from an experiment in a life that is not familiar, without any knowledge of why or how you got there, is a very scary proposition to me. The more advanced technology gets, the more likely it is that one of the pieces will malfunction to disastrous results. Even though many people will not think of this first as a horror novel, this fits in with some of the greatest technological horror stories of all time. I think about The Fly with Jeff Goldblum, Videodrome, and Possessor as films that line up with this subgenre of horror. Needless to say, I get sucked into these stories quickly because they all feel like they could happen in the near near future.

I see Deep Dive as a great sci-fi novel but also a great horror novel. I only thought I was going to read the first few pages that first day, but ended up reading half of it. I read the other half the second day, and I have been trying to get everyone I know to pre-order copies for themselves. This is definitely a novel that can be used as an example of a good technological thriller, but also good technological horror. This makes this story unique and exciting. I could not put it down until the end.

I received this ARC from Angry Robot and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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4.5/5 stars

Deep Dive by Ron Walters is a character driven, fast paced sci-fi thriller that explores virtual reality and true immersion as its central concept.

The book follows the story of Peter Banuk, a video game developer, husband and father of two daughters, who’s trying to succeed in his new VR videogame project Starflung and hence keep his company Omega Studios afloat after his previous project failed. His priorities at the moment are in the same order as above, the project followed by the family. He convinces himself that he’s doing it for them; doing it so he could show them that their father could be successful and of course so that he does well financially. But that’s no reason for being an absentee father and he knows it and it low-key guilts him. So, when he’s called in to beta-test a new state-of-the-art virtual reality headset on his daughter’s birthday, he goes in with the same guilt. Much to our dismay, something goes wrong in the beta-testing and he wakes up to realize that he’s in an eerily familiar world where his children no longer exist. What happens from there on is a tense, well paced, character driven tale with high stakes and higher rewards.

I love it when science fiction books are character driven. And it’s a treat if there’s a well established internal or emotional conflict on top of a strong character and Deep Dive delivers it. The story is set in first person narrative and Peter’s voice is quick to reel us in. The other characters, Peter’s wife, children, friends and associates are all three dimensional and nice from his lens and support the story well. The prose is on point and dialogues are well done. Peter’s interactions with his friends and colleagues are off the bat fun and delightful to read, keeping the story in its bubble and moving it forward.

I also liked how some of the dialogues came close to breaking the fourth wall, be it a character referencing the sci-fi concept to a movie, or talking of the plot as a mix up between movies and such. In context, it came close to a self-aware, self-deprecating analysis of the book in itself and it was nice.

There were quite a few gaming references which were wasted on me (alas, a non-gamer), but I was able to appreciate them contextually. I also suspect that there were nods given to other sci-fi authors and their work as well, especially Blake Crouch?, but it’s just a suspicion (which I wish were true, since I love Blake Crouch’s work) and let me leave it at that. I don’t want to start or spread random rumors.

One point that acted as both the pro and con for the story is how much Peter thought, felt and acted as a father. In the first 60-65% of the story, through Peter’s internal monologues and thoughts, we clearly see how much he defines himself on the basis of his parenthood. Cut to next 15-20%, the narrative attention wavers between all the action slash showdown and the emotional tension the book steadily wove through the first half and more. Peter hovers dangerously close to acting out of character? This is not to say that it was jarringly apparent, but just something that I felt as a reader. Of course, the book ended on an emotionally satisfying note (last 15%) and all that ends well is well, but if I have to say a con, this would be it.

Overall, Ron Walters is definitely an author I plan to follow going forward and I recommend reading Deep Dive to any of you who like a well paced, character driven sci-fi novel with solid prose, good banter and fun moments!

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This book is for lovers of Blake Crouch (Dark Matter; Recursion). This one was twisty and techy.

Video Game developer Peter Banuk is struggling with work/life balance as he tries to build his business back up from its latest failure. When his business partner suddenly makes a breakthrough in their VR technology and offers to let Peter do a trial run, he jumps at the chance despite it being his daughter’s birthday. When something unexpected happens during the trial Peter finds himself a long way from home - in a whole new reality where his daughters don’t exist and his life is vastly different. He has to fight to access his own memories and re-establish his own reality.

This was fast-paced and adventurous! It wasn’t quite as mind-bending as some thrillers are, but I found that that made the story more accessible. There was enough mystery to keep you guessing and reading, and there was just enough sci-fi/fantasy world-building so that anything could happen. I definitely recommend this to lovers of speculative fiction and mystery, or those who have wanted to try out the genre with a good entry point novel.

[4.5 stars rounded up]

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