From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—Living under the oppressive rule of a 2000-year-old Dark Queen, the inhabitants of the violent world of Saga are downtrodden. To survive, Ghost and her friends raid malls, ride airboards, and try to subvert the class-driven system. When they meet the swashbuckler Cindella Dragonslayer, first introduced in Epic
(Viking, 2007), they are perplexed. Her clothes, her mannerisms, and her magical abilities are absurdly out of place. Saga is a virtual-reality game and Cindella is the avatar of Erik Haraldson, the winner of the previous iteration of the game. Saga's characters are now sentient beings, and the Queen has enslaved Erik's world with a drug that forces them to play or die. She will only release them if Erik makes her children immortal, but if he complies, the people of Saga will suffer. Erik and Ghost must each find their own way to defeat the Queen. The plot elements of this complicated, fast-paced novel are not fully integrated, and readers who have not read Epic
will be puzzled by the importance of Cindella/Erik. The moral conflict between Erik's peaceful society and Ghost's violent one has the potential to be an interesting examination of how the worlds function, but this idea is never fully addressed. Despite these flaws, readers will find the adventures of anarchic teens on floating skateboards compelling. Give this to fans of video games and readers of James Patterson's "Maximum Ride" series (Little, Brown).—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
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In the sequel to Epic (2007), a Booklist Top 10 Fantasy for Youth, the Dark Queen infiltrates New Earth’s central computer system, erasing the role-playing game called Epic. It’s replaced with Saga, designed to enslave New Earth’s populace. In Saga, Ghost, a 15-year-old girl with no memory of her first 9 years, is part of an anarcho-punk airboard gang. Strange things have been happening in Saga—strangers are appearing, then disappearing into thin air—and Ghost’s gang eventually learns what readers already know: Saga is not a real world but a sentient computer game. When Eric arrives in Saga as his avatar Cindella Dragonslayer, he joins forces with Ghost and her gang to stop the Dark Queen from destroying New Earth. Though this adventure sustains the suspense of its predecessor, the replacement of magical Epic (with its strong resemblance to real-world computer games) with the more mundane Saga may disappoint some returning readers. Another sequel is planned, and it will definitely be interesting to see where Kostick goes from here. Grades 7-10. --Sally Estes