July 20, 2017

Macky Reads Gamer Squad #1: Attack of the Not-So-Virtual Monsters

Attack of the Not-So-Virtual Monsters book cover
Bex and Charlie (neighbors and best friends) manage to find themselves in the face of a small town crisis of semi-apocalyptic proportions when a bunch of monsters from their favorite augmented reality game are unleashed into the real world. 

Childhood best friends. Check. 
One big adventure where you have to save the town you live in from a real and dangerous threat. Check. 
Me and my friends save the world trope. Double check. 

Their relationship is ultra-cute and their life issues are pretty real. Bex dealing with her ex best friend who is now a popular mean girl… Charlie whose brother is a grade-A bully… and both of them going through the summer before they move on to seventh grade. It’s the kind of idyllic, sanitized childhood many of us loved to watch portrayed on TV (I’m looking at you, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel). 

That said, much like many of the stories we see on TV made for kids, this book tends to lean towards the simplistic approach to everything. Lore, character development, plot… not to say it’s a bad book, but for me (a die-hard Animorphs fan), I like a little more weight in those areas. *spoilers begin now* There really wasn’t any big reveal about how and why the monsters got loose from the game. I mean, I personally would want to know how virtual monsters could be projected into the real world and could only be subdued by the app from which they came. Maybe I’m just old. Maybe the other books in the series will unravel the mystery of how the monsters got out. The ARC did have a few sample chapters of book 2, and the characters most certainly remember the epic events of the summer, so maybe we’ll get answers there. *spoilers end now*

What seems to be the prominent strength of this story is the way the characters go through their journeys. Again, simplistic, but there are some choice moments here for Bex and Charlie, both on their own and together. Plus, there’s that really cool ending where, in true middle-grade fashion, we get an honest to goodness showdown.

Do I want to find out what happens next? Sure, I definitely want to know how things turned out. Something tells me this is just the start… *cue tween movie series background music for ominous cliffhanger*

Attack of the Not-so-Virtual Monsters by Kim Harrington | Series: Gamer Squad #1
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books | Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Source: ARC from BEA 2017 (Thanks!)


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