Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Invisible Invasion and Tiny Infinities

39192780Brady, Dustin. The Invisible Invasion: Trapped in a Video Game #2
April 10th 2018 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher

In Full Blast, Jessie and Eric are just glad to be out of the video game in which they were trapped, but they know they need to save their classmate, Mark. When Jessie wakes up invisible and then finds Mr. Gregory hiding in the bushes, he is hopeful he can get help, since the father of his classmate works for Bionosoft, the company producing the problematic games. Unfortunately, Jessie gets sucked into the new game, Go Wild! Like Pokemon Go, it has players finding animals with their phones and battling them against each other. Eric sees Jessie in the game, but doesn't believe at first that he is trapped there. When they come across Mark as a very old man, they know there is no time to waste in figuring out how to defeat the game, as well as the evil owner of Bionosoft.
Strengths: This has a lot of action, and many descriptive scenes that are right out of video games. Getting chased by various creatures, wielding an ice bazooka, and buying premium features to enhance their chances of winning are all things that will appeal to younger readers who are not cursed to have every one of their DinoPark Tycoon scenarios burn to the ground. Even so, it had a lot more plot than the Cube Kid or other gamer fan titles books (which is to say- there is one). The books in this series are short and simplistic; Insert Coin to Continue they are not, but they're a good choice for reluctant readers interested in video games.
Weaknesses: I'm not a fan of the artwork, but my students are not going to mind it.
What I really think: Will purchase if the Accelerated Reader test becomes available.

Diehl, J.H. Tiny Infinities 
May 8th 2018 by Chronicle Books
Copy provided by the publisher

Alice is having a tumultuous summer. Her mother is depressed and lethargic following a car accident and multiple surgeries, and her father moves out. Her brothers go to live with an aunt, but Alice is heavily involved in swim team, and her aunt's house is too far for the pool. To protest her mother's behavior, Alice moves into a Renaissance Fair tent that the family has set up in the back yard. New neighbors, the Phoebes, move in next door. Their young daughter, Piper, lost the ability to communicate when she was about two, and Alice finds her wandering in the street, injured. Unfortunately, this occurs in the middle of the night, when Alice is sneaking back from breaking into the pool to practice. Piper's father blames Alice for Piper getting out, but the mother and older brother Owen seem nice. Alice meets Harriet at the pool, and the two find that they have a lot in common. They start to spend time together, working on a science project of their own devising that involves fire flies. This involves spending a lot of time in the backyard. Alice babysits Piper and her younger brother on occasion, and at one point, Pipe says a word. Since she hasn't communicated at all, Alice tells the parents, who become upset with her. Alice's mother is also upset about events she deems lying, but are actually reasonable responses to the mother's neglect. Harriet tries to diagnose Piper's ailment and comes up with a possible idea, and her theory is given more credence when Harriet, Owen, and Alice manage to videotape Piper talking. Eventually, Alice's parents have to make a decision about how they will move forward with their family arrangements, and summer, like all summers, has to end.
Strengths: Books about children who have specific interests and have activities are always in demand. The swim team and fire fly experiments really set this book about from other realistic tales. Having Piper exhibit traits that are not necessarily autism spectrum related is interesting, since there are a significant number of books with characters on the spectrum. Alice's relationship with Owen is very sweet as well.
Weaknesses: I can see what the publisher was going for with the cover, but it looks good from very few angles. The issues with the mother were treated oddly, and there was never a good explanation or resolution. I think this is the scariest thing for young readers, and I wish it were handled differently. It's realistic, perhaps, but hard for young readers to understand. Of course, dysfunctional parents are quickly outpacing talking animals on my list of things I really dislike in books, so it wasn't my favorite part.
What I really think: The cover will mean that I will have to hand sell this one, but it could circulate decently well with a little push. I wish that Chronicle would get away from their usual vaguely depressing realistic fiction with dark covers and use their skills to produce some fun, bright, humorous fiction with some color and pictures.

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