Twelve-year-old gamers at an elite tournament uncover secrets.
In the not-so-distant future, the digital world’s just as real as the physical one thanks to virtual-reality technology. Rogan, an egotistical-yet-talented “Laser Viper” player, spends more time alone in his virtual apartment (where he’s facing eviction for failing to pay rent) than with his parents, who are wrapped up in their own digital lives. When the creator of “Laser Viper” invites him and four other players to a contest to become the “Laser Viper” Grand Champion, he leaves Seattle for the Atomic Frontiers headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he and the other players are sequestered. Joining him are his chief gaming rival, Shaylyn; brusque bully Beckett; brilliant Jacqueline; and team-player Takashi. The advanced version of the game is more real than ever—but when certain things don’t add up, the players find themselves in danger from an unexpected source. Aside from brown-skinned Jacqueline and implied-Japanese Takashi, the only other main character explicitly of color is Xavier (called X), a brown-skinned, “tough-looking” Atomic Frontiers employee; Rogan, Shaylyn, and Beckett are default white. (Many principal characters are neurodiverse, but their conditions are controlled by the neuroports that also facilitate their play.) During the intricate gaming missions, the perspective hops among the characters (each playing a different class, “Team Fortress”–style), so readers don’t miss anything, from the three elimination rounds to the championship, in this fast-paced narrative tailor-made for gamers.
Authentic gamer action meets classic sci-fi themes and leaves room for sequels. (Science fiction. 8-14)