Purbaugh (Combat Boy and the Monster Token, 2014) returns to the saga of Tom Hock and his adventures with the Monster Realm in this middle-grade novel.
Mere hours after becoming the Multidimensional Game Master and saving his soul (and his brother’s) from getting trapped in the Monster Realm, Tom, aka Combat Boy, just wants to relax. Unfortunately, his brother Joey is still addicted to the nectar of flowers from the Monster Realm, and it’s making him do crazy things. After paralyzing Tom with a poison dart from a fortuneteller spider, Joey assembles the Monster Tokens and restarts the Monster Realm game. The game spills over into their native San Diego, causing the streets of the city to fill with terrifying flying demons and vanilla-scented knockout fog. Once Tom regains muscle control, he quickly suits up as Combat Boy and heads out after his corrupt brother. He must gather the same players that he recently competed against in hopes that, by working together, they can beat the game and stop the Lord of the Monster Realm. Combat Boy has already defeated the game once, but this time the level is San Diego, and the boss is Tom’s own brother, and if he loses, all the places and people he knows will be sucked into the Monster Realm forever. The only question, as phrased by the game’s coordinating troll, is: “Combat Boy. Are you ready to get your game on?” Punchy and propulsive, Purbaugh’s prose sucks the reader through the plot of this sequel, which, as in the case of the first Combat Boy story, is structured to resemble a video game. Little time is given for setup or exposition, and when it’s offered, it’s usually while characters are already running straight into the action. As with most video-game sequels, this volume is a variation of the old formula as opposed to something completely new, but fans of the first book should be pleased by the continuity of story, characters, style, and tone. Breakneck pacing means the end comes quickly for Tom and company, but a cliffhanger indicates another volume in the series is in the works.
A satisfying video-game sequel for fans of this action-hero series.