What parents need to know
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.
What's the story?
Lance is obsessed with an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game called Discordia and, as his skills improve, is thrilled to be recruited by a very high-level player, called TheGreatOne, for his group. But then Lance and his gaming partner -- whom he knows only by his screen name MrsKeller -- are drawn through the game into the real 11th-dimensional world upon which the game is based. There they meet each other and TheGreatOne, who forces them into a quest before they can return home. But he may not be telling the truth, and Lance finds himself turning into his online character -- a flesh-eating zombie.
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 ..."
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the allure of online gaming. Is it social? Addictive? Parents concerned about their kids' behaviors can check out our article on Beating a Computer Addiction.
This book contains a lot of fantasy violence, including pulsing blood, eating brains, geysers of viscera, severed necks, hands, and feet, bits of torso, and ribbons of skin. Is reading about it different than playing a video game where this kind of violent stuff happens?