Saturday, November 13, 2010

Heir Apparent - Vivian Vande Velde

Summary:  In the virtual reality game, Heir Apparent, there are way too many ways to get killed--and Giannine seems to be finding them all.  Unless she can:
get the magic ring,
find the stolen treasure,
answer the dwarf's dumb riddles,
impress the head-chopping statue,
charm the army of ghosts,
fend off the barbarians,
and defeat the man-eating dragon,
she'll never win.  And if she doesn't win, she will die--for real this time.  (Summary from - Image from )

My Review:  My aunt recommended this book and I picked it up in the hopes of escaping from all the depressing books I’ve been forcing myself to read lately. I loved the idea of a virtual reality adventure game, primarily because I have a secret passion for PC adventure games like King’s Quest, and a virtual reality one would be amazing. Yes, I am a geek. Are you just figuring that out?

When Giannine gets a gift certificate from her father (well, his secretary anyway) to enjoy Rasmussem enterprises virtual gaming experience, she decides to make the best of a less than thoughtful birthday gift and cash it in. When a serious malfunction occurs mid-level, Giannine finds herself stuck in the game with only her wits to save her. Heir to a coveted throne, unwelcome by her siblings, and trapped in hostile territory, she must figure out whom to trust and whom to use in order to successfully complete the game, before time runs out and her real life ends.

Heir Apparent has a Groundhog Day feel to it, as Giannine must repeat the entire game with each fatal misstep. I enjoyed this particular quirk and the variations it created in the story, but it did start to wear thin towards the end. I was glad when the author began to skip certain parts so that I didn’t have to relive each detail every time Giannine had to start over. Regardless, I think that most kids would be amused by her flippant attitude, some humorous twists, the concept of virtual reality gaming, and the chance to imagine themselves in Giannine’s place.

The ending of this book flopped for me. Apparently, there is a secret way to win the game that I thought was a cop out, and the games mysterious maker was very young-adult-cliché. None of Giannine’s family issues were resolved and the story just stopped. I swear, one minute they were wrapping things up and the next minute.

(Yeah, like that. Kind of annoying, isn’t it?!)

While I enjoyed this book's creativity and think it will fare well as a fun children’s fiction novel (ages 10 and up) I was more than a little disappointed at what I felt was a lackluster finish.

My Rating: 3 Stars (for an adult). For the sensitive reader – One instance of biblical swearing and quite a bit of vague-ish head lopping.

Sum it up: An interesting premise, with humorous delivery, but lacking an adequate conclusion.

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