Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Final Path, by Genevieve Cogman

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(Horror) Ignoring how the adult world is falling apart, teenage Annie tries to lose herself in a new video game. (3,177 words; Time: 10m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Award-Worthy

"The Final Path," by (edited by Ian Whates), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

At every step, we get hints that the game brainwashes the teenagers who play it, and that it turns them into murderous cannibals. For example, the Ellis's house burned, but Vanessa wasn't among the bodies. Annie's mom complains that the game trains teens to give "the right responses." Vanessa told Annie that there was a special tenth ending, and, sure enough, she finds it, but it doesn't seem to let her keep the boys alive. (Sunny is eating them, of course.) Van went to join the gangs, Thomas says, so perhaps this program came from the gangs. And, of course, the endless mentions of how people are going hungry, coupled with the discussion on cannibalism.

Put it all together, and there's a horrible ah-ha moment when Annie, now with a full stomach, sets the house on fire and leaves to find "the others."

Narration is transparent, dialogue is natural, and the characterization makes Annie feel like a normal, alienated teenager, and it makes her mom a really sympathetic character. She really loves her daughter and wants to take care of her, so it really shocks when she ends up murdered and eaten by Annie.

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