DPS Only!

Andrews McMeel. Nov. 2022. 432p. pap. $18.99. ISBN 9781524876494.
Gr 8 Up–The male-dominated world of competitive gaming sets up this story of siblings faced with difficult challenges. Virgil, 25, has been the legal guardian of teenage Vicky since they fled abusive parents. Virgil supports them through professional e-sports as the reigning champion, Aenid, whose reputation as a hot-headed intimidator isolates him from teammates, but makes him the fan-favorite on social media. Vicky feels controlled by his overprotection, unable to make decisions or choose her own friends. As her secret avatar, Aegis, Vicky becomes Virgil’s top competitor and a recruit in a ragtag team whose members include past victims of Virgil’s bullying. As Aegis, Vicky confronts her brother, her past, and her fears. This graphic novel is issue- and plot-driven, with well-defined, racially diverse characters. Issues of gender bias in e-sports are addressed, as well as the commodification of gaming tournaments, pitting players motivated by fame and fortune against those playing for fun and friendship. The style is dynamic as action pops out of panels against washes of color. Tournament scenes are intense and evoke the thrill of battle, but lengthy and superfluous. Decisive editing could have streamlined the story into a more digestible graphic novel, but at almost 450 pages, the density is daunting. A side story about a kidnapper stalking teenage girls adds a real threat as Vicky fends off harassment by male gamers, but this plot point gets lost. Suggestive and violent language is used sparingly.
VERDICT Recommended as an additional purchase where gaming is popular or for readers seeking stories of reconciliation, empowerment, and familial relationships.

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