By Author / Illustrator
In twelve-year-old Reyna Cheng's world, gaming is everything. Professional esports teams are the mainstream celebrities. Kids begin training from a young age, aspiring for the big leagues.
Reyna is the up-and-coming junior amateur Dayhold gamer, competing in a VR battle royale against AI monsters and human players. But despite Reyna's rising popularity and skills, no one knows who she is. Gaming is still a boys' club and to protect herself against trolls and their harassment, she games the mysterious TheRuiNar.
When Reyna qualifies for the Dayhold Junior Tournament, she knows she's got what it takes to win the championship title and the $10,000 prize. It's a chance to make a step forward towards her professional esports dreams and to help her family with the costs of her mother's hospital bills. But when she's blackmailed and threatened to be doxed by an anonymous troll, Reyna has to confront the toxic gaming community head-on. With her dreams and the cash prize on the line, it's game on!
Now I'm far from being a gamer, however, gamers - what a book for you (especially the ever increasing number of girls who are gamers). Set in 2067, the main character, Reyna, finds gaming hard going - not down to the actual game but because of the racism and sexism! I never knew that this occurred within the gaming community. Because of this, Reyna uses the name TheRuiNar (a male avatar) to hide from the trolls. It is a very fast-paced book - something which gamers, I'm sure, will love. Reyna is a 12-year-old Chinese/American girl. She is very resilient and determined. She qualifies for the Dayhold Junior Tournament with a chance to win $10,000 (which she will use to help pay for her mother's medical bills).
However, then a threat arrives - Reyna's identity will be revealed unless she quits the tournament! Now as I said before, I'm not a gamer in any sense of the word. Yes, I've played the odd game here and there, but the more I got into this book, the more it had me enthralled. I loved how Katie Zhao develops the dynamics of Reyna's family but also how it has an empowering message running throughout.
A brilliant action-packed book which I'm sure many children will love, especially as e-sports are now as popular as traditional sports in the world today. Definitely one to use for discussion around sexism and racism within the gaming community.
288 Pages / Reviewed by Donna Ritchie, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+