Friday, August 25, 2017

Review: Gamer Squad by Kim Harrington

By Kim Harrington
Sterling Children's Books
 Middle Grade Science Fiction
192 pages
ages 8 to 12

What happens when your cool virtual-reality game . . . becomes REAL?
Pokemon GO meets The Goonies in this action-packed middle-grade series.
Monsters Unleashed--where you catch virtual-reality monsters on your cellphone--is one of the hottest mobile games around, and Bex and Charlie just can't stop playing. They even check out an old map in Charlie's grandfather's attic in hopes of discovering some forgotten places in town where the rarest monsters might hide. But they find a strange machine up there too, and after Charlie switches it on, the WiFi goes down . . . and Bex's entire catalog of monsters vanishes! And that's not the worst of it: all the creatures she's collected on her phone escape into the real world. Can the friends nab the beasts before they become monster lunch?


Young gamers, science fiction fans or simple lovers of exciting adventure are sure to have their hearts beat faster as they dive into this fast paced adventure.

Bex and Charlie have been best friends forever, and both love to play Monsters Unleashed on the cell phones. When their hunt for the ever better monster to defeat lands them in an attic, a strange machine does something amazing. Every monster Bex ever caught has suddenly disappeared from her app and has landed in reality. Somehow, her and Charlie need to capture them all before the town is ruined.

Not only is this a short read, which isn't going to scare even more reluctant readers away, but it completely hits modern day kids and their interests full swing. Taking off on a similar wave as Pokemon Go, this book brings to life exactly what kids always dream will happen--video game hits reality. The writing is crisp, natural and stays on what's important. The scenes flow from one event right into the next, never allowing time for a boring moment but still giving the characters enough depth to make them interesting and easy to relate to. These kids have to think on their feet, and win battles without any special talents or powers.

The imagination in this book is simply fun. The monsters can be quirky, creepy and full-out dangerous. The main characters have their hands full. The author creates a perfect setting for these two friends to work together, while still leaving room for each to individually gain a greater sense of self-confidence in the process. By making the two main characters male and female, the old-fashioned idea that computers are for guys is left behind (as it is in reality) and both girls and boys are sure to feel at home in these pages.

It was a sheer delight to follow the kids on their quest. There are tense moments, humorous moments and quirky ones too. The logic behind the machine's odd capabilities was a little thin, but that doesn't ruin the pure excitement this book brings across.

In other words, this is a great read for kids ages 8 to 12, who love cellphones, apps, games and action. It's a wonderful start to a series, one I can't wait to see more of.

by Kim Harrington
Sterling Children's Publishers
Middle Grade Science Fiction
208 pages
ages 8 to 12

Pokémon Go meets The Goonies in this exciting new adventure series!

First they took on monsters. Now they have to face ALIENS.
Come join Bex and Charlie on their second thrilling adventure in the GAMER SQUAD series!

After their scary adventure, Bex and Charlie have sworn never to play Monsters Unleashed again. Then Veratrum Games Corp releases a new augmented reality game featuring aliens instead of monsters, and the best friends just can’t resist. After all, everyone loves it, even their science teacher, because it includes real star charts. But when they go to an observatory on a class trip, and open the game near a radio telescope, they get more than they bargained for: REAL aliens. One is sweet and kind; the other . . . not so much. Can Bex and Charlie capture the bad ET before it destroys their town?


A fast-paced adventure about aliens and so much more.

After the dangerous adventures of book one, Bex and Charlie are done with games. Well, that's until the newest one comes out. Everyone in town loves Aliens--even the science teacher thinks it's great. When a trip to the observatory ends up creating a real alien invasion, Bex and Charlie have their hands full again.

Although this book is, in some aspects, similar to the first one, it's another exciting read. The aliens bring in problems, and the threat is a little different than before. Even the steps to defeat the evil alien take a slightly different path and give this adventure a completely unique twist into the fringes of coding. The dialogue, actions and scenes reflect a reality kids can easily relate to and flow from the pages. It's an adventure to get lost in and almost impossible to set down until that last page has been read.

The characters and their relationship shows hints of change as well. A few new faces hit the scene, and the question of finding true friendship past superficial aspects is also addressed. There's even a first hint at boy-girl relationships, although this never brushes past first, curious thoughts.

This book is as exciting as book one and is sure to grab the attention of kids ages 8 to 12. Even reluctant readers will love this series, not only because of the short length, but it's an easy read which hits on things kids love and relate can to.

And here she is. . .

Kim Harrington is the author of the young adult novels Forget Me (Penguin/Speak), The Dead and Buried, Clarity and Perception (Scholastics), as well as the middle-grade series Sleuth or Dare (Scholastics). She lives in MA with her family.

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