Insert Coin to Continue

John David Anderson. Aladdin, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4704-1
In this clever deconstruction of video game tropes, an eighth-grader’s everyday routine is inexplicably turned into a game. Now Bryan Biggins’s clothes grant stats (a holographic label identifies his shoes as “Boots of Average Walking Speed. Fire resistance +5%”), and completing various tasks and challenges grants him experience and allows him to level up. Running an errand (accepting a quest) for a teacher becomes a death-defying experience, a read-through of Shakespeare in English class takes on Choose Your Own Adventure qualities, and confronting a bully is like beating an end-level boss. Every time Bryan is close to defeat, he has to pay a coin in order to continue playing; he doesn’t want to know what happens if time runs out. Anderson (Ms. Bixby’s Last Day) presents an entertaining romp in which a mundane school day takes on epic qualities, but Bryan’s “win” is contingent on him working up the nerve to chat up his longtime crush, Jess—a “get the girl” convention that’s common enough in games but underwhelming in this context. Ages 8–12. Agency: Adams Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2016
Release date: 09/20/2016
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4814-4706-5
Prebound-Glued - 336 pages - 978-0-606-40525-6
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-4814-4705-8
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