You is a story about video games. Set in 1997, incidentally about the time of my first console and first computer worth the name, You follows Russel, an adrift outsider, turning to a job making computer games for Black Arts, a company forged by his high school friends Simon, a deceased coding genius and outsider, Darren, a charismatic and visionary designer, and Lisa, the savvy programmer and obligate female hero. Can Russel find his place in the world, discover the flaw in the WAFFLE game engine hidden deep in his own history, and help create the Greatest video game ever on deadline? You will have to be the judge.
Structurally You weaves its central narrative through a broader question of what videogames are. By staging its "present day" story elements at a game developer, You provides an insider view into what video games literally are and the process of making them. You also manages to be a pretty thorough survey of the history of video games, from their inception on underpowered computers to the dawning of the modern console age, by having Russel play through Black Arts' games in his bug fixing quest. The brilliance of You is that it takes these two mildly dry topics and seamlessly integrates them into the core narrative about Russel finding his place in the world: lots of interesting exposition delivered in an emotionally satisfying story. If you are curious about video games, You is a satisfying read.
But for me the real magic of You is that it explains who Gamers are and why they exist. Russel's and Simon's and Darren's and Lisa's search for meaning, for escape, and for a quest bigger than themselves tells the story of Gamers, who they are, and why video games are so important to them. I kind of get it now.
I would recommend You to anyone interested in video games: be they Gamer, hobbyist, or afternoon waster. I'd also recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Soon I Will Be Invincible, because You has that same mix of accessible, loving exposition coupled to a fun, engaging story. You was a very satisfying read.