I guess 94/\/\3R 91RL was probably too convoluted for a publisher to run with, so the title of the book is actually Gamer Girl. I get that. Really. I do. Onto the review! I thought people might start rioting if I didn't start reviewing again.Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi should have actually been titled A Girl Who Games. As any internet nerd will tell you, a "Gamer Girl" only plays games to win the affections of video game nerds. A "Girl Who Games" is a girl who likes to play video games. That's what I am, so I know the difference, the author knows the difference and now you do too. bBut, again, for the purposes of the publishing world the title is Gamer Girl and is about a girl who games. I just wanted to be clear on that. Its also possible that I'm stalling.
I really adored this book and not because its secretly about World of Warcraft (Mancusi calls it Fields of Fantasy... she might as well have called it Planet of Battles, but "FoF" looks better and more like "WoW") I loved it because Mari Mancusi managed to capture the essence of teenage drama, first loves and online gaming and she's made it accessible to anyone. (And she adds in some internet safety too, kudos!)
If you know anyone who plays an MMO you can attest that listening to them speak about it is like listening to Portuguese. I know not only because I speak this weird language, but I wrote a linguistic anthropology paper on it in college. Yea, I'm that much of a nerd. Mancusi did a geart job of not using these gaming terms. At first it was a little obnoxious (omg, call it a MOB!) but after a chapter or two you start to understand that not every reader knows what DOTs or DPS means. Spells and "beating it up" sound just fine and they mean the same thing. ;)
On top of toning down the innate language she does a really fantastic job of making the story seem totally real. Its an age old story, a girl and guy fall for each other in secret, neither knows who the other is and when they do find out, its awful, they're in different cliques, it'll never work, it gets worse and then they suddenly end up together and live happily ever after. Having gone to a weird awesome high school where social hierarchy was limited to who was a student and who was a teacher (and let me tell you, even that line got blurry sometimes) reading or watching things where the popular kids "own the school" and the sub defectives try to keep to themselves for risk of being hazed is like watching National Geographic for me. I just don't get it. But I know about it and I know that this story does a good job of going there. The difference between this and all the other "Cinderella" stories is the way Mancusi weaves in plots and points from the video game into the real world. The main character is also writing a manga that mirrors the books main plot as well.
I'm a sucker for multiple plot paths all pointing in the same direction. I love mirrored allegory and I love video games and the fact that Mancusi gone to Scott Westerfeld-like lengths to wrap her characters gaming experience into her real life and that character's manga makes me really appreciate her ability to tell a story from multiple angles. Aside from being really well written, Mancusi also takes time to set some women empowerment into her story, which I think is a huge plus for any YA novel these days. Girls don't go around sniveling for boys anymore. They stand up for themselves (in the end anyway) and its totally clear that they would be just fine sans the boy. But, you know, they're fun to kiss (and they make great tanks!) I think Mari Mancusi and I would get along real well in real life.
Re-posted to my blog, Shiny Shiny.