October 5, 2013

Book review: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

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In the virtual reality game Heir Apparent, there are way too many ways to get killed--and Giannine seems to be finding them all. Which is a darn shame, because unless she can get the magic ring, locate 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 she has to, because losing means she'll die--for real this time.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Heir Apparent is the second book that takes place in a virtual reality game I've read for the Authors A to Z reading challenge. In May, I reviewed Epic by Konor Kostick. I liked Heir Apparent much more, despite the fact that Epic sounds like a game I'm more likely to play.

Heir Apparent is a bit like Groundhog Day. Giannine's game character, Janine, starts off the game at her foster parents' farm, where she learns that the king has died shortly after naming her the heir to the throne. In her quest to survive until her coronation, Janine runs into other characters who try to kill her. Every time she dies, she restarts the game back at the farm. Through trial and error, she learns what she has to do in order to "win." When done well, I find Groundhog Day stories entertaining, and it was certainly the case with this novel.

Unlike Epic, Heir Apparent takes place almost entirely within the game. I think that's a plus, because it's what happens inside the game that's most interesting. The other characters in the story were also interesting, and the author did a good job with giving each of them distinct personalities that evoked different reactions from me. Janine/Giannine also grew on me because I shared her frustration whenever the game restarted and I could sympathize with the decisions she made in the game.

Overall, this was a very good book, and now I want to read other books by the same author.

I read this book as part of the Authors A to Z reading challenge. Next up: The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn.

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