cover image Game Over, Pete Watson

Game Over, Pete Watson

Joe Schreiber, illus. by Andy Rash. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-544-15756-9

For kids raised on Xbox, is there anything more pathetic than an old eight-bit video-game system? Pete Watson certainly doesn't have any reservations about selling his father's ancient CommandRoid 85 at an impromptu garage sale, not if it means he can afford a hot new game, "Brawl-a-Thon 3000 XL," the day it's released. Unfortunately for Pete, selling the CommandRoid is the first link in a wild chain of events that involves his father being kidnapped, an evil exterminator, and a destructive computer virus. At stake are no less than a killion dollars ("a number so large it would literally kill you") and the fate of the free world. Schreiber (Lenny Cyrus, School Virus) remains talented at combining anything-can-happen action and on-the-mark humor ("This is beyond awful," says Pete's father, after being digitized into an eight-bit character by the bad guys. "I know," replies Pete. "These graphics stink"). Rash's spot cartoons are entirely in sync with the story's goofy, metafictional humor and deliver many jokes themselves, making the novel read like a distant action-oriented cousin to the Wimpy Kid books. Ages 9%E2%80%9312. Author's agent: Phyllis Westberg, Harold Ober Associates. (Mar.)