So of course, I’m eyeing related books—two that I’ve read, three that I want to read:
The Other Normals, by Ned Vizzini
A fifteen-year-old who is fascinated by a role-playing game called Creatures & Caverns—but has no one to play it with, so he just reads the rulebooks over and over again—goes to summer camp and discovers that the game is based on a real place…and that not only is it in danger, but he’s the one who needs to save it. I loved this one when I read it the first time, and I’m looking forward to revisiting it sometime soon—I’ve been putting it off, because as much of a joy it is to revisit Vizzini’s work, it’s also a reminder of how quickly we lost him.
Fallout, by Gwenda Bond
A group of bullies are using an online game to make a classmate’s life miserable. Luckily, Lois Lane, teen reporter, is on the case! In addition to my love for stories about girl detectives, I also have a wicked soft spot for stories about the lives of non-superpowered people in worlds with superheroes, so this is one that is pretty much guaranteed to be a great fit for me. Fallout got a bucketload of stars and was pretty much on every Best of 2015 list out there, and from what I’ve seen, the sequel has been just as warmly received.
Greenglass House, by Kate Milford
Milo and his new friend Meddy use a role-playing game to pass the time, to try on different personas, and to investigate the various mysteries taking place in Milo’s family’s inn, a rambling old house with a zillion rooms, many of them rented by smugglers. If you haven’t read this book yet, DO. It’s so layered, with threads about adoption and family and friendship and the power of story; the characters are quirky and colorful, but still feel real; and two years later, just thinking about re-reading it gives me the warm fuzzies. Every patron I’ve handed it to—regardless of age—has adored it.
The Summer I Became a Nerd, by Leah Rae Miller
Stereotypical blonde cheerleader on the outside, comic book fanatic on the inside. She keeps her two lives separate for years, until one summer she gets busted by the cute guy who works at her local comic shop—and he proceeds to introduce her to conventions, video gaming, and live-action role-playing. But when fall rolls around, she’s got to decide who she wants to be—the cheerleader, or the nerd? Of course, my FIRST question is: WHY CAN’T SHE BE BOTH? So I admit to giving the entire premise of this book a minor case of the side eye. But I’m willing to give it a chance, because we don’t see very many gaming-related romances, and I can’t help but hope that it will subvert tropes rather than reinforce them. Fingers crossed!
Guy in Real Life, by Steven Brezenoff
SPEAKING OF GAMING-RELATED ROMANCES. Gamer meets metalhead, and hearts (and worlds) collide. Brezenoff is a top-notch writer—if you haven’t read Brooklyn, Burning, add it to your TBR list, STAT—and I have no doubt that this one will be just as thoughtful, nuanced, and honest. I’m especially looking forward to it because the Kirkus review notes that it compares the experiences of playing “live, real-time role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons against the detached anonymity of MMORPGs,” which is a wrinkle that I don’t think I’ve seen explored in YA before.
Do you have any other gaming-themed books to recommend?
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom, is currently serving on the Amelia Bloomer Project committee, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.