CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE by Christian McKay Heidicker


Age Range: 14 - 18
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A 16-year-old is forced to face his shortcomings at a rehab center for video-gaming addicts.

Jaxon spends all of his spare time playing “Arcadia,” a team-based quest game. Just minutes after securing an unprecedented date with a beautiful, snarky white girl, Jaxon is packed off to Video Horizons to cure him of his compulsion to play. Readers will note the irony of the facility’s game-based therapy, in which each patient competes for enough points to complete the program. Jaxon, known at Video Horizons as Miles Prower, resolves to win 1 million points in just four days, which would send him home in time for his date with Serena. He joins a guild of apparent losers with whom—surprise!—he attains his points-winning objective but—surprise, again!—doesn’t learn anything substantive about how his overreliance on gaming brings out his worst impulses, until a late-breaking confrontation with his teammate Meeki forces him to rethink his assumptions. Meeki, who identifies as “a fat, queer Vietnamese girl,” rightly points out Jaxon’s many societal privileges as a straight, white guy. While her sharp, laser-accurate truth bombs are welcome and necessary, they’re also so overdue in the formulaic narrative that Jaxon’s redemption feels dull and unearned.

Teen readers deserve a thought-provoking, complex story about a boy who begins to understand his internalized misogyny; this is not that book. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 14th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4814-5027-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2016


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