November 13, 2008
Gamer Girl is a book I first really paid attention to when The Story Siren had Mari Mancusi do an Author Tales post. I'm not sure if I hadn't heard of it before that...or, if I just wasn't interested because I figured 'gamer girl'? Nah, that'll just be good to people who like video games and stuff (Hey, we all have our moments).
But the cover was very appealing (I have a thing for covers) and Melissa Walker featured it in her Cover Stories...feature (I need to not take review-writing-breaks, my vocabulary suffers). So, I gave it a shot when I actually found it in one of my libraries (they're not big on YA books released within the last 6 months). Here's what it is:
Forced, by her parent's divorce, to move--along with her mother and younger sister--into her grandmother's home, Maddy Starr has to leave her old life and school behind. After an unfortunate incident involving her grandmother and her (Maddy's) clothing, she's labelled Freak Girl and school is hell for her.
Maddy's only escape is into the world of Fields of Fantasy, the roleplaying computer game her Dad gave her for her birthday. In FoF she becomes Allora, a beautiful, confident elf...who catches the attention of a handsome knight named Sir Leo.
But while romance is blooming between Sir Leo and Allora, Manga loving/drawing Maddy is still struggling to find her way in her new school. Can she find a way to deal? And would anyone ever choose brunette, skull-tight wearing Maddy over busty, blonde Allora?
(Now you know why I usually let Amazon write the summaries/synopses.)
This novel was really enjoyable to me (someone who doesn't know much of anything really about interactive/roleplaying games or manga) because while it did involve things that I think would have also made it enjoyable for people who did know about those things, it never went to one extreme or the other. When Maddy started playing the game, her setup was described, when she first met Sir Leo he explained some 'etiquette' I guess to her, and what she did in the game was described. The way all of this was done made it not a how-to lesson and just a part of the story that happened to tell you about FoF.
And when it came to the manga, different characters liked different types so one character explaining what they liked about a to a character who liked b, let you know what those were if you had no idea.
There was information given that was interesting and helpful to someone who didn't know about the topic and (from what I've seen in some Amazon reviews) fun for those who do. I think that's a fantastic achievement.
The characters made the book even more enjoyable. Maddy's grandmother seemed almost like a fairytale character to me (I'm not really sure I can explain that but I just feel like she wouldn't have seemed out of place in one of those Grimm Brothers' tales)..not because she's sweet or evil, just... Maddy's sister and parents also had a lot more depth to them than siblings and parents usually have in stories that are focused on a single, teenaged character.
Gamer Girl is a book that I believe teens (and young adults) will enjoy whether they're Gamers or not because it really does not have a weak aspect (characters, plot, writing)*.
*Okay, my one gripe with the book at all was Chad Murray as a character name because all I thought of every time was Chad Michael Murray...
And why can I still not write sensible reviews of books I really like? The more I like a book, the worse the review's written :[