Zamora's Ultimate Challenge by M.K. Scott
Finished: June 12, 2009
First Published: Feb. 1, 2008
Genre: children, fantasy
The little man, named Jemlock, drew his sword, richly decorated with jewels he'd earned during his many adventures.
Reason for Reading: A very long time ago I read a book with the same premise of two children finding themselves inside a video game and loved it so the premise again intrigued me. I received a review copy from the author.
Comments: Two pre-teen boys are left to babysit their two-year old sister while the parents go grocery shopping. They turn on their favourite video game "Zamora's Ultimate Challenge" to have the face of Queen Zamora talking directly to them. She has taken little Isabella and plans on taking over her soul and returning to Earth in her body so she can eventually take over the planet Earth. All she needs to do is wait a few days for the planets to align. The boys who have always considered the baby a major imposition on their lives are stunned and find a way to enter the game so that they can rescue her and thus save both the video game world and Earth.
At first I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book as for the first two chapters the boy's spend an awful amount of time complaining and using words such as "stupid" and "shut-up" and basically being very disrespectful human beings. However, once they enter the game the first two rules they are give are 1) Trust yourself and 2) Trust each other and the reader comes to realize that the bad behaviour is a plot point. The book is a lot of fun with the the two boys playing out the levels of the game which they have played before at home but they meet new characters, light-keepers, who help them on their quest. Ultimately the book follows a theme throughout as the boys realize that they love each other and their family and learn ways to show it to each other, physically and through trust.
A fun read with lots of fun characters, mermaids, pirates, giant robot shark, a pegasus, lava monster and more. The publisher recommendation is for ages 10+ but I think that is a little extreme. The book reads more for younger audiences and a limited audience really as I think older children will want more, so I'm recommending this as a fun adventure for ages 8-11.