A shy role-playing-game aficionado finds slaying monsters easier than kissing a girl in this appealing adventure by the author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2006).
In a desperate attempt to make him socialize, 15-year-old Perry’s parents take away his RPG books and send him to Camp Washiska Lake for the summer. Perry mopes until he accidentally discovers a portal to the World of the Other Normals, where each creature there corresponds to one on Earth. He falls in with a group of quirky characters (including a sexy blue-haired elf) and learns that they need him to kiss a girl back at camp in order to set in motion a chain of events that will end up freeing her correspondent, the kidnapped princess of their world. Perry’s game, but the real and imagined obstacles in both dimensions will put all his nerd skillz to the test. With a deft sense of humor and a keen ear for funny and realistic teen dialogue, Vizzini explores one teen everyman’s quest to become a hero, one roll of the six-sided die at a time. Though the world building is thin at times, there are some moments of genuine pathos and terror, with the final climactic fight scene leaving plenty of room for sequels.
Great geeky fun. (Fantasy. 13 & up)