Miki’s understanding of reality completely changes when she’s thrust into a deadly virtual game.
Having recently lost her mother to cancer and dealing with her dad’s alcoholism, the 16-year-old is trudging through life grief-stricken and angry. When she is hit by a truck while trying to save a little girl, Miki’s broken body is suddenly whole again when she’s “pulled” into an alternate dimension. Here, Miki’s mission is to play a live-action video game. She earns points by terminating predatory alien creatures, the Drau. Battling at her side are four other gamers, the leader of whom is Jackson, a young man of few words and alluring looks. They are pawns of an unseen force, and it quickly becomes clear that a game injury deals real and agonizing pain and that destroying the aliens is much more than a game. The battle scenes are visceral and taut. The intricate, multilayered plot is inventive, twining hostile alien takeover (these guys are superbad, brain-eating beasts) around uncertainty about Miki’s and Jackson’s true heritage and their growing romance. The story, however, unfolds through a constant litany of questions from Miki, which has the effect of bogging down the plot and making Miki appear dense.
Mind candy for those teen readers who love the thrill of the game. (Adventure. 13-18)