Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi

Book Info
Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi
©2008 Dutton Children’s Books, New York, NY
ISBN 978-0525479956

Plot Summary
In the wake of her parents’ divorce, Maddy finds herself in a new town and a new school. All hopes of a fresh start are quickly thrown out the window when an unfortunate accident on the first day of school lands her the nickname “freak girl.” In the city, she had a tight group of friends, but now she has no one and feels like she’s destined to stay that way forever. She finds herself retreating into her drawing – manga art – until she receives the new online role playing game Fields of Fantasy. Here, Maddy can escape the horrors of her real life and finally be herself. She immerses herself into her character Allora who is not only powerful, strong and brave, but a beautiful Elfin princess as well. Through Allora, Maddy even manages to find virtual love when she meets fellow gamer and valiant champion, Sir Leo. Unfortunately everyone knows you can’t escape reality forever, and Maddy must eventually face the Haters. Can she use the confidence and strength she has developed in the game to overcome her problems in real life?

Reader’s Annotation
Video games can serve as magical escapes, and for Maddy who is recovering from her parents’ divorce and struggling in a new town, Fields of Fantasy is just that. Unfortunately, she can’t avoid her problems forever, but can she use the skills she has acquired in the game to help her combat her real life problems?

Critical Evaluation
The world of online gaming is largely male dominated, so as a female and former PC gamer I was really excited by the premise and female gamer point of view of this book. While I ultimately enjoyed the book, I was mostly unimpressed in its execution. On the plus side, I was able to relate to it pretty well, it was an easy read and the writing was well done. I enjoyed the rotation between the excerpts from the in-game chat and the first person narrated story. I found the dialog to be incredibly realistic. Mancusi really captured how gamers talk which made me feel nostalgic, but for someone not familiar with gamer-speak, it might seem slightly confusing or weird. My major complaint about the book is that the story felt very cliché which left me feeling slightly disappointed.

Information about the Author
Mari Mancusi used to wish she could become a vampire back in high school, but she ended up in another blood sucking profession –journalism — instead. Today she works as a freelance TV producer and author of books for teens and adults.

When not writing about creatures of the night, Mari enjoys traveling, cooking, goth clubbing, watching cheesy horror movies, and her favorite guilty pleasure–videogames. A graduate of Boston University and a two time Emmy Award winner, she lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Jacob and their dogs Mesquite and Bowie.

Visit the author’s website.

Genre
Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Nerd Lit

Curriculum Ties
N/A

Booktalking Ideas
Discuss the similarities and differences between online friends/relationships and those in real life. Can you really be friends with someone you’ve never met?

Reading Level/ Interest Age
12+

Challenge Issues

  • Occasional foul language

Defense options

  • Be aware of your library’s collection development policy.
  • Be familiar with the material in question, and the context of the questionable content.
  • Assert the principles of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, and standards of intellectual freedom.
  • Consult online book reviews, and others who have read the book.

Why Included?
I read Cory Doctorow’s For the Win and despite including female gaming characters, seemed mostly geared towards a male audience. I came across this book and was eager to see how gaming was portrayed from a female point of view.

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