The Leveller

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Leveller Book Poster Image
Virtual-reality thriller starts well, loses steam.

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Kids say

age 13+
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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The Leveller is set mainly in an online fantasy world, but the novel raises interesting questions about the split between mind and body. It also features a virtual version of the Havana bar in which Ernest Hemingway used to drink.

Positive Messages

There's more to life than the exciting scenarios offered by video games. Although some friends might betray us, others will surprise us with their loyalty and compassion.

Positive Role Models & Representations

At the start of The Leveller, Nixy Bauer is cool, verging on cocky, ready to take on any online challenge. As the plot develops, she learns some of her limits and has to rethink her assumptions about other people, in the digital world and in real life.

Violence

Most of the violence in The Leveller occurs online and therefore has few permanent consequences. There's a suggestion that one character "killed" in the MEEP also dies in real life, but her demise is hardly conclusive.

Sex

Nixy attracts the attention of male gamers by dressing her avatar in tight-fitting and revealing clothes. She and Wyn flirt and share virtual hugs and kisses, but nothing too steamy happens.

Language

"Damn" and "hell" are used a dozen or so times each.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Nixy enjoys a "virtual" cocktail in a bar within the game.

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."

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written bystrudelkitty827 July 2, 2015

Amazing Book, OK For Teens

This book drew me in, as it had a fascinating plot, characters, and setting. I couldn't put it down and finished it in 24 hours. Great read, would recommen... Continue reading

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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