Review: Gamers' Challenge by George Ivanoff

I reviewed the first of George Ivanoff’s YA adventure series, Gamers’ Quest, on my old blog, and said how much I enjoyed it.

I was delighted, then, that this fast-paced fresh book had a sequel – Gamers’ Challenge – and even moreso to find out that George is in the throes of writing a third book in the series.

Gamers’ Challenge follows not long after the end of Gamers’ Quest where two games characters, Tark and Zyra, have defied the game designers, broken their programming with a kiss and chosen to live outside the rules of the game.

Of course, breaking the rules has consequences. They are no longer perennial teens who find game-play convenient tools and challenges as part of the game they once played: they need to sleep now, their hair grows and they get acne, for a start.

A more serious consequence is that balls of static energy now appear to be trying to kill them too.

Tark and Zyra finally meet with other people who have broken their programs and become ‘Outers’. They also learn that there are ‘cheats’,  prophecies about escaping into the real world.

Gamers’ Challenge builds logically on the original world, where the characters inhabit a gaming environment full of strange magic, technomagic and technology. We find out more about Tark and Zyra’s environment, and the other gaming environments around them. There are new friendships (and not so friendly relationships) and mysteries to explore, but there’s also plenty of action and tension.

The characters are engaging and are certainly more than the simple gaming characters they were designed to be. Brave, loyal and flawed, Tark, Zyra, Hope and the others keep you caring about their fates and the fate of their world. Even the Ultimate Gamer and the Outers, though less the point of focus, have more going on that initially meets the eye.

George Ivanoff continues to write fun, fast-paced adventures for younger readers. The Gamers series might particularly appeal to boys, and the original book was listed on both the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge and the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge.