***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***
Chivalry isn’t dead. It just wears a skirt.
Highschoolers Charlie Matthews, his stepbrother Martin, and Sharon Collins win a contest to play an interactive medieval game as the avatars of their favorite characters. Their mission: fight off the monsters, storm the castle, and capture the evil king.
But things go terribly wrong. Charlie is dismayed to discover he is Angella of Avernon, the lead female character in the game. Fortunately, she’s the most powerful avatar around, but he also finds out that he, Martin, and Sharon have been infected with a virus that will kill them outside the game, so they have to stay inside the scenario.
Trapped and beset on all sides, Charlie has to deal with the sexism of the characters circa 1430, his stepbrother’s distaste for his female form, and his feelings about becoming a woman. In addition to fighting off the various monsters within the scenario, Charlie tries to fight his attraction to Sharon…and then realizes Sharon is attracted to him, which makes it all the more confusing.
When the deadly opponents in the game get the upper hand, Charlie must summon all of his love and courage to save the day and rescue Sharon. Will he understand that love is where you find it and that the gender of the one you love doesn’t matter at all?
I loved this book that was packed with adventure. Imagine being stuck in a computer game as a gravatar. Not only that–but things aren’t quite as they seem. You thought the same rules applied, but after awhile, you discover there’s a computer virus that changes the game. Upping the stakes! This is what the three main characters Charlie, Martin, and Sharon went through.
They won the Hummel Corporation’s contest. Travianna was a popular computer game, so of course, the teens didn’t hesitate to be a part of the simulation. Their foreheads being taped with wires as their progress was monitored reminded me of The Matrix.
My favorite lines: 1) “Something in his eyes clicked, changed, went dark–and became evil.” 2) “It figured. Martin had the social skills of a donut hole.” 3) “Clearly, she liked me, and…I was a woman now.” 4) “He stopped in his tracks and his face held a mix of regret and acceptance.”
J.S. Frankel had an amazing talent with dialogue and overall tone of the story. Charlie’s first person point-of-view was used. I liked hearing his ups and downs, his fears and concerns as he tried to put on a brave face for his brother Martin and his crush Sharon. He was the only person who blacked out a couple of times in the game and was able to enter the real world. He had to hear the tragic news that the computer virus was making them sick. I couldn’t even imagine…The body language was great in painting the full picture.
The author was also great with description in the scenes. I enjoyed the tension between the teenagers, especially when danger approached. Martin couldn’t quite grasp that his brother was turned into a woman. He always had snarky comments, but later readers found out that he had a crush on Sharon. I enjoyed her feisty attitude. She didn’t take anyone’s bullcrap. I liked how Sharon and Charlie’s friendship developed slowly into something more. He was confused because in his mind he was still the same Charlie, but his physical appearance showed something different.
The ending was bittersweet. I felt for all parties involved. The Hummel’s were being investigated by the police for an accident, the parents were losing their children, and the children were trapped in the game. Can they make it out alive? You’ll have to read to find out.
I RECOMMEND this book to read.