Dragons vs. Robots

Little, Brown. (Dragon Ops: Bk. 2). Jun. 2021. 384p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780759555181.
Gr 4-7–Still traumatized from their harrowing experiences while trapped in the Dragon Ops VR game, where they were hunted by a cunning AI dragon and forced to fight their way out or (literally) die, siblings Ian and Lilli have signed an NDA and are laying low when they overhear the news that Ikumi, an in-game friend from Dragon Ops, has been kidnapped and is being held captive in Mech Ops, a different VR game designed by one of Dragon Ops’ main competitors Admiral Appleby. Discovering that they can sign up as beta testers for Mech Ops, they team up with Starr, a professional gamer, Yano (their dragon guide from the previous game who has mysteriously traveled the interwebs into the new game), and Ian’s soccer nemesis Josh, who just happens to be the Admiral’s grandson. Making their way through the various levels, the kids bounce back from destruction time after time, determined to rescue Ikumi. The biggest thing standing in their way is Atreus, their AI nemesis from Dragon Ops, who has tracked Ian to this new VR world. Unless Ian can confront his own fear, the quest will be doomed. Readers will appreciate the main character, a boy who learns to admit to and deal with his fear, playing on his strengths to overcome his weaknesses. Although not as do-or-die as the first book, readers who enjoyed that installment will be happy to get their hands on this one, too.
VERDICT Fast pacing and one dangerous situation after another build an exciting genre introduction for fans of sci-fi VR games. Purchase where the first book is popular—or buy both.

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