cover image Saving Thanehaven

Saving Thanehaven

Catherine Jinks. Egmont USA, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-60684-274-4

Noble the Slayer fights monsters with help from an ill-tempered, shape-shifting, magical weapon, Smite. Smite has always been with Noble, but how far back does “always” go? One day on the way to rescue a princess, Noble meets a skinny kid named Rufus who questions Noble’s very mission and autonomy. “Let’s just say I’m a freedom lover,” says Rufus. “Power to the people, and all that stuff.” Noble, Rufus explains, is nothing more than the lead character in a first-person “shooter” game, controlled by some distant player. Soon the slightly dimwitted hero abandons Smite and, with Rufus, embarks on a quest to free gaming subroutines everywhere. Joined by a growing retinue of fugitive characters, they jump from game to game, dealing with everything from deadly organic spaceships to Barbie-style dress-up environments, with an efficient antivirus program in a white lab coat hot on their heels. Jinks (The Paradise Trap) serves up a genuinely funny tale, filled with sprightly (or is that spritely?) characters, unpredictable twists, and a veritable roman à clef of half-familiar video-game scenarios. Gamers should adore this book. Ages 10–up. (July)