Schrieber, Joe. Game Over, Pete Watson.
Illustrations by Andy Rash
March 11th 2014
by HMH Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Pete is all set to sneak over to the game store and purchase Brawl-a-Thon 3000 when he realizes that his mother has borrowed a much needed $20 from his savings. Ever the quick thinker, he hauls junk out of the basement and has an impromptu garage sale. Luckily, he gets $20 from an exterminator for his father's old CommandRoid gaming system. When he goes off to the store to buy the game, he sees his father kidnapped in front of him, and when the president appears on television spewing nonsense, Pete is informed by neighbor and retired teacher Mrs. Wertley that his father is a CIA data analyst, and the CommandRoid is really a portal to top secret CIA information. Pete's mother doesn't believe him that his father has been kidnapped, and sends him off to a birthday party at his friend Wesley's. Wesley's dad also has a CommandRoid, and the boys (along with three other friends and Wesley's sister) try to figure out what is going on. Too late, though-- they get kidnapped by the bug man and Wesley's father and taken to GameCon, where the men plan to release Brawl-a-Thon SuperMax as a multiplatform download and infect all of the computers in the world. Pete's father has already been "digitized" and is a character in the game, and when he realizes that time is running out, Pete also gets digitized in hopes of saving the world from mass destruction.
Strengths: Well, okay. This is a notebook novel about video games that has lots of action and adventure. Excuse me while I go preorder five copies out of my own pocket, since they will never be on the shelf. Really, this is pure brilliance, right down to the cover that looks like that video game with the blocky swimming pigs. (Minecraft, my daughter tells me. Minecraft.) I love Pete's single minded focus, and I especially love Mrs. Wertley. I want to be Mrs. Wertley, who at last sighting was "traveling with a rogue syndicate of retired teachers who have turned to high-tech computer crime to fund their international travel." With her Warriner's English Grammar. *Snerk*
Weaknesses: Does it matter? Okay. Supporting characters are a bit one dimensional, and there is a certain level of suspension of belief that has to occur to believe that people can be "digitized". Not that anyone will care, since there are about three middle grade novels that involve video games, and this is just plain funny.
This book just BEGS for the video trailer to be included.