cover image Deadly Pink

Deadly Pink

Vivian Vande Velde. Harcourt, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-547-73850-5

Vande Velde again plays with characters caught in a virtual reality game in this overlong but satisfying novel. Fourteen-year-old Grace feels inferior to her pretty, popular, and smart sister, Emily, a college student interning at the Rassmusem Corporation, which is behind "total immersion, the next step beyond virtual reality" (the company's games also played a role in Vande Velde's Heir Apparent and User Unfriendly). When Emily refuses to come out of a game, leaving a cryptic note behind, Grace goes in to rescue her. Vande Velde provides a lot of setup as readers learn more about Emily's tragic story and "Land of the Golden Butterflies," a girly video game filled with sprites, sparkly clothes, dolphins, and unicorns. The plot accelerates when Grace discovers she and Emily are both trapped in the game, and she must figure out how to escape. Readers may tire of the endless mission, but they will find clever gaming details throughout and should appreciate Grace's growing understanding that she can be a hero both in the game and in real life. Ages 10%E2%80%9314. (July)