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Thursday, September 4, 2014

It's like the movie "War Games" only the video game is about a medival war rather than nuclear war and the Matthew Broderick character is a girl.

VandeVelde, Vivian (2002) Heir Apparent Orlando: Harcourt

Giannine gets an excellent 14th birthday gift from her father, a fifty dollar gift certificate to a virtual reality game center.  When she goes to redeem the certificate, though, she has to wade through an angry crowd of moralistic protesters who are arguing against the violence in the games.  She eventually makes it through and is soon in the midst of a medieval-themed game where she has a series of quests she must complete to win the game.  However, when the protesters invade the game center and wreck some of the machinery, Giannine finds herself trapped in the game with a time limit -- and if she cant beat the game before the time expires, she could die. 
     The book has some interesting themes -- it calls into question those who argue against violence in children's books, and asks the reader to consider whether virtual reality is really as valuable as real reality -- but mostly it is simply a fun book to read.  Every time Giannine messes up, she must go back to the beginning of the game, and as she runs out of time, the book becomes harder and harder to put down.  The story of the characters inside the game is as interesting as the story of the Game Center employees working to save Gianneine's life. 
     Strong middle school readers could make sense of this, but it really seems best suited for high school.  There is nothing significantly offensive in the book. 
     Oh, and thanks to my former student Ken who put me on to this one.

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