cover image Don’t Hate the Player

Don’t Hate the Player

Alexis Nedd. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0502-6

By day, Philadelphia high school junior Emilia Romero, who is Puerto Rican, is an overachiever: popular honors student, field hockey team captain, and junior vice president candidate, with her Black best friend Penny as presidential hopeful. By night, however, Emilia is KNOX, newest member of Team Fury, a ruthless, top-tier squad in the game Guardians League Online. Until now, Emilia has kept her identities separate from friends, family, and teammates. But then Fury is invited to GLO’s first live tournament, with glory—and $200,000—on the line. There, Emilia runs into white schoolmate Jake Hooper. As the tournament progresses, Emilia and Jake forge an emotional connection, despite being destined to battle one another. When Emilia’s life threatens to collapse due to overabundant responsibilities and secrets, she must fight for what she wants most. Nedd’s cast is well-rounded and inclusive, while gaming sequences shine with verisimilitude. Emilia’s voice adeptly incorporates teen confusion and laugh-out-loud observations, and Jake’s online team chat offers another perspective. In this gripping debut, Nedd balances drama, humor, and romance with an expert touch, alongside a searing examination of the insidiousness of misogyny in e-sports. Ages 12–up. Agent: Steven Salpeter, Curtis Brown. (June)