A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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"Damn" and "hell" are used a dozen or so times each.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Nixy enjoys a "virtual" cocktail in a bar within the game.
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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."
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.
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.