Friday, April 24, 2015

User Unfriendly by Vivian Vande Velde

User UnfriendlyArvin's friend pirates a new virtual-reality, computer game, and Arvin becomes a warrior elf named Harek Longbow. His group of friends, and his mom, become characters in the video game and set out on a quest to save a princess. The princess has been kidnapped by goblins and no one seems to know where she was taken. Harek and the other characters travel through forests, deserts, and caves and face many dangerous creatures. Then, they realize this is not a normal video game. Other characters start to loop, they find black holes in the programming, and Arvin is worried about his mother. Her character becomes sick and slowly starts to fade away. She's very tired, has difficulty walking, and more and more characters are unable to see her. If the kids can't escape the game soon, Arvin's mother may die.

Virtual realty stories aren't unusual, but this book connects connects the imaginary world with the lives of the game players. Their personality conflicts carry over into the interactions between game characters. It's very strange to have a character's mother become part of the team. Her illness created a huge conflict that lasted all the way into the resolution of the book. The plot included adventure and action, and the author leaves an unexpected twist until the climax. This book isn't a literature classic, but it's very entertaining.

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