In Heir Apparent there are as many ways to win as there are to get killed.
Giannine can testify to how many ways there are to die—it's about all she's been able to do since she started playing. Now all she has to do is get the magic ring, find the stolen treasure, answer the dwarf's dumb riddles, come up with a poem for the head-chopping statue, cope with the army of ghosts, outmaneuver her half brothers, and defeat the man-eating dragon.
If she can do all of that, why, she just might save her own life!
Vande Velde (Never Trust a Dead Man) establishes a clever premise for this consistently entertaining fantasy novel. When Giannine arrives at the virtual reality arcade, the organization Citizens to Protect Our Children is protesting out front (their signs bear such messages as inappropriate for children and magic = satanism). Giannine goes in anyway, choosing to play Heir Apparent. In it, she assumes the role of shepherd Janine de St. Jehan, illegitimate daughter of the late king, and she will become the new king if she can survive constant threats, including potential warfare and perhaps even a dragon. For Giannine, the stakes are raised when a man claiming to be the arcade's CEO appears in her game, telling her that the CPOC protestors have vandalized the equipment: Her only way out of the game is to successfully complete it and quickly, or she risks "fatal overload." The story line is ingeniously developed; each time Giannine's character "dies," Giannine must start back at the beginning, making more informed choices and using her developing diplomacy to prevent a war with barbarians, or win over the royal troops. It can be a little hard to keep track of all the people and the plotting, but hilarious characters (like a sweet-talking barbarian king and a centipede-eating wizard) plus fantastical elements (e.g., a hat that "lets you avoid the time stream keep moving when all about you is still") will spur readers on toward the satisfying conclusion. Ages 8-12.
i know this book is written for a younger audience, but even though i'm 21 I found this book to be incredibly engaging and sophisticated. The only reason i didn't give this five stars is that it is FULL of typos. literally every page, and I find that very distracting. Once they even used the wrong character's name and it took me several minutes to get back on track. and there seemed to be a lot of random "MEN" stuck in. just the word MEN in the middle of a sentence.
A personal favorite
I read this book when I was very young, and I'm now 20 and I still enjoy it. It's a very good gamer read, the concept of respawning as a frustration and story building technique really hit home. I recommend this for any young readers, or avid RPG gamers.
Thoroughly enjoyed it. I "pre-read" books before I let me daughters read them. And I really enjoyed this one!