Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Review: Gamer Squad #1: The Attack of the Not-So-Virtual Monsters

Book review by Julie Overpeck of Gamer Squad #1: Attack of the Not-So-Virtual Monsters by Kim Harrington

Gamer Squad #1: Attack of the Not-So-Virtual Monsters
By Kim Harrington
Sterling Children’s Books
August 2017

Bexley, or Bex as she is called, and her best friend Charlie are gamers. Specifically, they play a game called Monsters Unleashed. Similar to Pokemon Go, players walk neighborhoods and search for virtual monsters to catch. Players collect the monsters and are always on the hunt for rare ones. Deciding that the best chance to catch some of the rarest would be to find old places in their town of Wolcott, Massachusetts, Bex and Charlie ask Charlie’s Grandpa Tepper if they can take photos of an old map of his up in the attic. This map is from the 1800’s and will surely reveal some great spots to catch monsters.

The problem occurs when Charlie fiddles with an old machine he finds in the attic while Bex is taking pictures. It sparks and knocks out the wifi, and at first, the friends don’t think anything of it beyond how much trouble they might be in. Then Bex checks her Monsters Unleashed app and realizes that all of the monsters that were in her lab are gone. When they walk home in the dark and have to battle a VampWolf for real, they realize what happened. The monsters from the Lab are now in the physical world rather than the virtual one.

So Bex and Charlie have to learn how to catch real Uniguins, Oinkcats, Teddy Globs, and others before real people get hurt. Only players can see the monsters. Among those who assist are frenemy Willa, a public librarian (I love that part), and an elderly gentleman who lives down the street.


Several of my students came to mind as I read this book. It is short, easy to understand, and the problems the kids have, aside from needing to catch monsters, are relatable. The predictability works in its favor as a hi-lo book for less advanced middle school readers, and elementary will eat it up. I like the characters, who learn and grow through their adventures. This age group often ages out of series while the books are still being written, but not this time. The first in the series came out in August, #2 is already out and #3 comes out in October. The author confirmed for me that there are only 3 in the series. I plan to buy all 3 for my library this fall.

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