Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: Gamer Girl

I don't think I had checked this book out before but I do remember seeing it around the local library a couple of times over the years but never checked it out since I'm not really a gamer. Sure gaming is fun but I can't multi-task and knit at the same time so usually I don't game (well, that and my brother lost the charger to the DS and I'm not sure where the PS2 ran off to). But hey, it's a book about a nerdy girl, I think I'm obligated to at least try it out.

Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi
I really like the cover here since it really relates to the story yet someone who was causually browsing can probably figure out that the girl on top is the gamer girl and the girl on the bottom is her avatar. Plus it's an illustration and I just prefer illustrated covers, they seem to allow for greater flexibility, ie, more of a chance that the cover is actually going to match the work.

Summary: Maddy isn't too happy with her life right now but since her parents did just divorce (forcing her, her mother, and her little sister to move out of Boston to a small town with her grandmother) it's fairly understandable. She cheers up when her dad fulfills his promise to buy her the computer game Fields of Fantasy for her 16th birthday and she uses it not only as inspiration for a comic contest but also as a respite from the bullies at her new school.

The Good: I remember ranting during Geektastic that every time anime/manga pops up in a modern day YA book it's either a really general anime reference or Ranma 1/2*. This book actually mentions a lot of current day manga offerings and, while that will date the book in the long run, it was really nice to see proof that our protagonist really is a fan instead of having to take the author's word for it (and I also had to giggle at how Svetlana Chmako made a cameo).

The Bad: There was one thing about the divorce that did bother me in this book and it was how it's implied in the end that the divorce happened because of Maddy's dad and only because of his actions. Like I said earlier, my parents divorced (heck I was even Maddy's age when it happened) yet it wasn't either of my parent's "fault," they just grew apart and I feel that the story used the blame game to avoid really getting in deep about the divorce. Whenever I come across divorce in a novel actually, if it occurs during the story time frame it's always one of the parent's fault and that really feels like a cheap cop out to me. Other than that, Maddy whines a lot, her school seems rather cliched, the romance was fairly predictable (but I predict almost all romantic subplots anyway) and the ending felt a bit like bad fanfiction but it was the divorce issue in the book that really bugged me.

So, not the best presentation or really idea but I have to give the book at least a couple of points for making the protagonist actually come off as a real world nerd. Hmm, speaking of Svet, I should have a review of her latest series in a couple of weeks although I had some issues with that series too...

*I'm not kidding either, I have seen Ranma 1/2 used so many times. Seriously, by this point I'd love to see any other 1980s anime reference and would probably hug someone if they referenced one that had a better plot than Ranma.