A tightly plotted action-packed adventure with thrilling fight scenes, this is the perfect book for computer game-obsessed tweens and teens.
In the year 2030, a killer virus wiped out millions of adults and left a generation of orphaned kids on the streets. Crime spiralled out of control until businessman, Vince Power, launched Virtual Kombat (VK) – the most realistic virtual reality game ever. The game took the world by storm and quickly made Vince Power a multi-billionaire and a hero, especially when he chose to use some of his vast wealth to provide some of the street orphans with a home and the opportunity to play VK as elite gamers. It’s, therefore, not surprising that street-kid Scott feels all his dreams have come true when he’s offered a place at Vince Power’s City Orphan’s Home. However, it’s not long before everything turns into Scott’s very worst nightmare.
This is a high-concept, fast-paced novel and I was quickly drawn into Scott’s world: I was intrigued by the VK game that clearly fascinates Scott (and all those around him) and appalled by the world he and the other kids find themselves in. At the same time, I was seriously impressed by the skill with which author, Chris Bradford, sets up both the situation and the crucial plotlines in so few words and without slowing the action.
Written in the first person from Scott’s perspective, it’s easy to identify with Scott and impossible not to sympathise with his situation. Our affinity with Scott is also quickly deepened – and then reinforced throughout the book – by the way he repeatedly risks his own life for others. Most powerful, perhaps, is the incident in chapter two when, despite being weak from hunger, Scott intervenes in a street brawl to protect two little kids.
While the characterisation is strong, it is really the dramatic action and exciting plot that makes this book such a cracking read. Tightly written (the whole story is impressively squeezed into just 97 pages), almost every sentence moves the action on. And, as you’d expect from a book about a combat game, there are some truly impressive fight scenes.
This is, without doubt, the perfect book for the computer generation. It helps that this is also part of Barrington Stoke’s super-readable series of books that are deliberately designed to help emergent, reluctant and dyslexic readers unlock the love of reading.
If you enjoyed this, I’d recommend you also read the follow up book, also from Barrington Stoke – Virus: To Play Is To Die by Chris Bradford. Alternatively, if you’re looking for another easy-read for the computer obsessed tween or teen, you can’t go wrong with Senseless by Steve Cole.
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Author’s website: Chris Bradford