High school football star Rick Dial becomes depressed and immerses himself in video games after a car accident leaves his legs painfully useless. After racking up world-class high schores, the teen is recruited to fight real life baddies in The Realm – a virtual reality world created by Kurodar, a terrorist out to destroy the free world. Rick enters The Realm on several occasions, and each time the missions get more dangerous. He must fight for his life, because what happens to you in this virtual world affects your IRL body. Can Rick defeat Kurodar’s evil Axis Assembly and save not only the country, but his family as well? The novel’s overarching conservative and nationalistic themes turn this seemingly gamer-centric sci-fi series opener into an exposition on faith, forgiveness, family, and patriotism. With quoted Bible passages and casual conversations with God, the author brings to the forefront the importance of religion in the protagonist’s life. Sports commentary and video game jargon are awkwardly integrated into the narrative. Recommended for athletes, young gamers, and readers looking for YA books with a Christian outlook. Published July 8th, 2014.
-Review originally published in School Library Journal, June 2014