Don't Hate the Player

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Don't Hate the Player Book Poster Image
Heartfelt tale tackles toxic side of the gaming industry.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about sexism, harassment, and doxing in the gaming industry. 

Positive Messages

Friendship, communication, and perseverance are major themes. Support your friends and stand up for them. 

Positive Role Models

Emilia and Jake are strong, smart, and sensitive characters. Their friends, both online and IRL, are kind and supportive.

Diverse Representations

Emilia, who's Puerto Rican American, breaks stereotypes as a talented female gamer in a male-dominated industry. Jake is White teammates are BIPOC gamers who are gay and transgender.


Characters experience sexism, virtual harassment, and doxing from cyberbullies and online trolls.


Characters flirt, kiss, and make out.


Variations of "s--t," "f--k," "bitch," "bastard," "ass," etc.


Emilia and Jake participate in an eSports competition with a large cash prize if their team wins. Brands and pop culture mentions include Pokemon, Guitar Hero, YouTube, Animal Crossing, Twitch, Discord, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An underage character mentions she has vodka in her water bottle.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alexis Nedd's Don't Hate the Player is a heartfelt novel that doesn't shy away from the toxic side of the gaming industry. Readers will learn about sexism, harassment, and doxing (searching for and publishing private or identifying information about someone on the internet). Characters compete in a major eSports tournament for the chance to receive a large cash prize if their team wins. Strong language includes variations of "s--t," "f--k," "bitch," "bastard," "ass," etc. An underage character mentions she has vodka in her water bottle.

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What's the story?

In DON'T HATE THE PLAYER, Emilia Romero is an all-star student-athlete doing everything she can to live up to her family's high expectations. But her friends and parents don't know that she's also the only female member of a highly competitive and well-known eSports team. Emilia's excited about participating in a major eSports tournament, so long as her identity remains a secret. But what happens when Jake Hooper, a competitive gamer from a rival team, recognizes her at the tournament? Will Emilia be able to keep her two gaming and non-gaming identities separate?

Is it any good?

Alexis Nedd's heartfelt novel doesn't shy away from the toxic side of the gaming industry. Nedd seamlessly incorporates diverse characters -- gender, race, sexuality -- and their experiences with harassment online and IRL into Don't Hate the Player. Told from Emilia and Jake's perspectives, readers will love how their supportive friendship turns into a swoon-worthy relationship. As the story progresses and Emilia tries to keep her identity a secret, teens will see the importance of practicing good digital habits plus the power of friendship, communication, and perseverance.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how gaming is portrayed in Don't Hate the Player. How important have online games become in pop culture? Why are they so popular? 

  • Emilia spends a lot of time hiding her location and true identity. How do her precautions compare to the strategies you use to work and play online safely? Why is privacy and internet safety, important? What's the best way to deal with cyberbullies and online trolls?

  • How do the characters demonstrate communication and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

Book details

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For kids who love tech, gaming, and digital life

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