A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Leveller is a fast-moving cyberpunk adventure that mostly takes place in a virtual environment known as the MEEP. Nixy Bauer works as a freelance "leveller," chasing down teen players reluctant to return to reality. On a mission to rescue the son of the MEEP's billionaire developer, she faces daunting obstacles, but the level of violence is kept low. She and her quarry, Wyn, flirt and share a brief romantic interlude, but it does not progress much beyond hugs and kisses. Strong language is limited to a dozen or so instances of "damn" and "hell."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
High schooler Nixy Bauer makes good money by tracking down her game-loving classmates and pulling them out of the online virtual-reality environment known as the MEEP. When she's hired by the inventor of the MEEP to locate his missing son, Wyn, Nixy believes the job will be a piece of cake. But after surviving an array of online traps and pitfalls, she discovers that Wyn is being held against his will, that he's unable to return to his comatose body and wake up to reality. Even worse, she's now trapped, and she and Wyn must trust each other enough to escape before their minds and bodies are permanently damaged.
Is it any good?
Although THE LEVELLER starts well, this neo-cyberpunk thriller loses some of its steam toward the middle, perhaps because the author has her eye too focused on the next installment of the saga. Nixy's adventures in the MEEP are initially exciting and suspenseful, but once she locates Wyn, the pace slackens considerably. The novel's climax feels rushed, as does the denouement. Further complications no doubt await in the presumed sequel, but some readers may feel cheated that this offering doesn't provide a satisfying resolution.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about immersive video games and their benefits and drawbacks. What are reasonable methods of limiting time with games, apps, and other electronic media?
Is it all right to hack into protected online sites? What separates curious investigation from cybercrime?
Do corporations always look after the best interests of their customers? Do they ever foster behavior that's actually detrimental to the health or well-being of their customers?
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