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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This book and others in the series are full of action that may appeal to reluctant readers. This installment could lead to some good discussions about online behavior.
The main characters are on a quest -- and as they work together they must decide who to telling them the truth and who they can trust.
Positive Role Models
Gamer teens will have no trouble relating to video game obsessed-Lance -- but parents concerned with the amount of time their kids play online may find him a bit too familiar.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of gruesome violence, though most of it is virtual or committed against fantasy creatures: pulsing blood, eating brains, geysers of viscera, severed necks, hands, and feet, bits of torso, ribbons of skin. A lengthy description of skinning a deer.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A mention of "pervs" and another of "boobs."
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Online abbreviation slang for words such as "ass." Use of "damn," and a reference to "gay" jokes and use of the word "gay" to mean lame.
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Products & Purchases
Bread brand mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens smoke, adults drink ale.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is the start of a science fiction series, and there is quite a bit of graphic fantasy violence. The main teen character is becoming a zombie and has the urge to eat living creatures and people. This series may appeal to reluctant readers -- especially those who play games -- but parents should know there is an actual online game attached to these books.
Is It Any Good?
This is the children's lit equivalent of a B movie. The story doesn't make much sense, the characters are cardboard, and the gore is mostly gratuitous, but it's enjoyable enough in a cheesy sort of way. One can imagine it done with cheap sets and visible zippers on the costumes. It has its share of scares (though not as scary as you might expect) and cliffhangers (including the ending), and passes the time agreeably if you or your kids are into this sort of thing.
Early on there are long stretches of transcriptions of video game play, which will be entertaining for kids who love this type of video game, and not so much for anyone else. Once Lance and MrsKeller have entered the world of Discordia for real, it still reads like a video game, as presumably it was intended to. So ... not great, not terrible, a bit of gratuitous gore but otherwise mostly harmless. This is one of those books that some kids will love, and if they are not normally avid readers, their parents and teachers will sigh and say, "Well, as long as they're reading ..."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.