Genres/Descriptors: YA; Fantasy
Why I read it: I won a copy in a goodreads giveaway.
Who I’d recommend it to: If you liked the movie Knights of Badassdom, or if you think you’d like reading about LARP-ing gone wrong, check this out.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (maybe 3.5 stars)
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Book Depository | IndieBound
Description (from goodreads):
When Allison’s best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ’s weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure.
Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they’ve built has transformed, and the battle they’re in the midst of is no longer make-believe.
Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group’s once-fictional magical powers have also become real – including Allison’s newly acquired gifts as a healer. They’ll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.
I still remember when I came across the giveaway for this book on goodreads. I read the description and knew I wanted to read it, and since the Kindle edition is only $0.99, I figured even if I didn’t win a copy, I would still end up getting it.
The description reminded me a lot of Knights of Badassdom:
This movie was not amazing and awe inspiring or anything, and honestly, when I first came across it on Netflix, I was not impressed by the description. It sounded pretty stupid. And it was, in the best possible ways. Husband and I watched it together and it was a fun time. I recommend checking it out if it’s still on Netflix.
Back to the book, though…
The book didn’t blow me away, but, like Knights of Badassdom, it was a fun read. I was a little annoyed by the main (and only, I think) female character–Allison–being a newbie to all the LARPing stuff (and by the thing that finally persuaded her to go with TJ), because it felt so cliche, but honestly it could have been much worse. Allison, in the beginning, kind of served as a way for those of us who haven’t participated in stuff like this to get a quick breakdown of how it works and what the rules are, as things happened, without it being overwhelming or boring.
I appreciated that a lot because I haven’t LARP-ed before (is that even right? “LARP-ed?” sorry ), but I do have a vague idea of how it works because of people I follow online. Dave Barrett didn’t really make Allison into the damsel in distress that she so easily could have been, or anything else like that, and I ended up really liking her character at times. She was pretty smart, caught on to things quickly, and the boys in her group didn’t treat her very different from each other just because she was a girl.
Things start off pretty normal and innocent, with the group assembling and getting acquainted, hearing their mission from the “king,” and setting off. At first things are just a pretty normal LARPing experience (as far as I can tell), but then all hell breaks loose. The shift from our world to the game world was not my favorite transition. It was so sudden and jarring that it broke my immersion in the story and it took a few pages for me to get back into it. Once I did, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the rest of the book. I ended up finishing this in a day during a read a thon because it’s short and fast paced.
I don’t want to talk much about what happens with the characters, and their LARP characters, because ~spoilers~ and all that, but I thought it was an interesting idea. I think we get pretty equal times getting to know most of the characters, and I liked them all well enough. I think my favorite was probably Chuck, though. I think he was the most interesting and I kind of wish this book had been longer, with more of his backstory.
What I did not know, going into this book, is that it was meant to be the first in a series. I have no idea if there ever will be a sequel or not (I hope so), but I haven’t been able to find any info about it if it’s in the works. Because it’s an opening novel, we don’t really get the whole story. There are a lot of unanswered questions at the end, including **potential spoiler alert** exactly how these kids ended up in this other world.
This was a fun, quick, action-packed read. But, I never got very attached to any of the characters, and I think that lessened the impact of the potential danger. While I was flipping pages as quickly as I could to find out what happened next, I never felt too concerned with anyone’s fate like I did with, for example, Six of Crows.
I would definitely read the sequel, if it came out before I’d completely forgotten this first book, and I feel like this was a solid 3-4 star read (I’m giving it 3.5 and rounding up to 4). But I won’t cry if I never get to find out what happens next.