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Game World Hardcover – February 4, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—A virtual game world called Xamaica becomes real for three Jamaican sixth graders, who embark upon a quest through a fantastical landscape laden with Caribbean mythology. Monsters, lush forests, giant talking spiders, morphing hummingbirds, ancient witches, plant people, and the overall obeah (magic) of Xamaica are vividly described, often employing the rule of three. For example, "The air smelled like parts of fish you don't eat, and garbage you forgot to take out, and armpits you had neglected to deodorize." Unfortunately, the elements of plot, character development, and pacing are not as strong. The plot fluctuates wildly, as characters' actions frequently contradict their motivations or they suddenly discover some game changer without any prior buildup. Scenes are unshaped and pile one upon the next without change in tone. On the plus side, here (finally!) is a middle-grade action novel that showcases West Indian mythology and features protagonists of color: an Afro-Caribbean boy, Hispanic-Caribbean boy who also is a wheelchair user, and a Korean girl. There may well be many readers whose drive to enjoy the novelty of this unique and vivid book will enable them to consider its flaws mere distractions.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
The Xamaica video game contest with its “grand major triple-secret prize” lures 12-year-old Dylan and his pesky, supersmart younger sister, Emma, out of their aunt’s apartment to join Dylan’s friend Eli at the theater, where Dylan and Eli easily win the game. However, the boys aren’t prepared for what Ines Mee, the game owner’s daughter, tells them: “Adventure is the prize!” As the four enter Xamaica, Emma is sucked down a drain. Although she is, admittedly, a pain, Dylan is distraught when she is lost. Now his goal is finding her, while Eli’s goal is to find an ancient book to bring his family money, and Ines seeks her lost father. As the three encounter all sorts of creatures and adventures, they must trust one another, even as they wonder, Is this adventure real or imagined? And will they survive? Farley blends video gaming and Jamaican folklore in this intense, fast-paced middle-grade fantasy that is sure to quickly grab readers. Grades 5-8. --J. B. Petty
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Top customer reviews
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My son identified with the book's middle schooler hero, Dylan, and really got into the adventure thriller storyline. As a parent, I appreciated how the book intelligently weaves in cultural reference, history, and fantasy into the plot. I also liked that it had morally conscientious protagonists in the characters of Dylan, Ines, and Eli.
The cover and each chapter of the book have awe-inspiring illustrations that tie in beautifully with the plot.
This book is a "must read" for anyone 10 or older. I hope there will be a sequel and there will be a "Game World" series/franchise like "Harry Potter".
The plot was great, with lots of twists. The characters seemed very real, as if this could actually happen. I liked the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter and wish there were more. I also liked the creative use of names. I would recommend this book for ages 9 -12, especially boys.
I've been trying to track down novels for my niece to read, and came across this one. From the cover and title I was sold this was something she would like. Trying to be a good uncle I decided I'd read the first few chapters to get a feel for the book so I could have some talking points with her about the book.
Next thing I knew I was finishing the book.
I was hooked immediately by the characters and concepts and couldn't stop turning pages. Farley combines Jamaican folklore and video game culture to create a solid world for these engaging and human characters to quest through. Great characters. Great story. Great world building. Great read.
The target audience is young adult, but grips an older audience in the same way as Harry Potter. I loved this novel. I can only hope my niece likes it half as much as I did.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is great! I couldn't put it down for about two hours! It is a thrilling book, with lots of actions, which is great!Read more