What happens when your game spills over into the real world? This thriller will leave you wanting to play such an exciting game but also terrified at how the game begins to take over the lives of the kids who play it.

One of the perks of teaching secondary students is having a good excuse to read lots of young adult fiction. This one was an interesting one and I could see it being productive to use in the classroom, which I suspect was part of its rationale (but maybe I’m cynical).

So, Erebos. All of the kids at school are whispering in corners about this new game. Nick can see that there is something going on but until someone actually hands him a disc he does not realise how huge it is. The game is the most amazing thing he’s ever played. From the moment he inserts the disc and it communicates directly to him, he begins to be obsessed. Eventually though, it begins to be much more sinister than that.

Nick is a normal teenager concerned about fitting in and with his own group of friends. What happens rips apart the normality of his life and the life of his school friends. The plot is fast paced and the descriptions certainly keep you reading. Like most thrillers, the reader wants to read on to find out what is going to happen and the plot definitely keeps you guessing. I did not guess the ending and it was certainly cleverly controlled. This is a great book for kids who love computer games and reading thrillers. I was interested in the whole idea of the contagion of the game. Even as it begins to be apparent that it is dangerous and people are doing things in the real world that the game tells them to do, other people still want so much to belong that they want in too.

There’s a nice link to lots of Ancient History, as is sometimes the case with computer games too, so another reason for considering it as a teachable book.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s a much more comprehensive blog post about it.


The Ghost’s Child

I really love Sonya Hartnett’s writing so I was already anticipating something good with this one. I finally got around to reading it this week and it did not disappoint. It is a magical fable of an old woman who tells her story to a young boy who unexpectedly appears in her house. She tells the story of her love with a man whom she calls Feather and who is wild and untamed. Feather loves her but is unable to give himself to her fully as he is yearning for something else. Maddy’s story weaves itself through the narrative in a fairy tale like way and the reader is taken along on what could seem like a far-fetched journey if it was not told by Hartnett. Her prose is spare, but evocative and the reader begins to feel the pain that Maddy feels in her disappointment at not having the love she needs. She builds herself a life around that pain and in some ways it is the making of her. The ending is so bittersweet that I wanted it to continue for longer.
This is a highly recommended fable which adults and older children alike would love.