Author: Vivian Vande Velde
Publication Date: June 1, 2004
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Age Rating: Readers over 9
My Opinion: 9/10
Have you ever dreamed about being transported into an entirely new world? In Heir Apparent, characters have access to virtual reality video games that immerse their minds in fantastical and fictional worlds for short periods of time. Heir Apparent is a fun and exciting read, but it is also becoming relevant to modern day society due to the fact that virtual reality games are becoming possible. This review of Heir Apparent is a part of It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, a blogging meme hosted by Teach Mentor Texts, Book Journeys, and Unleashing Readers.
Giannine, who has just turned fourteen, receives a certificate to her local Rasmussem Gaming Center that allows her to play a virtual reality game for half an hour. She is thrilled to try out a new game, choosing "Heir Apparent", and her mind is virtually transported to the Medieval ages. She is faced with the task of becoming the next King of a small country, and starts off as a lowly goat herder with no allies. However, as soon as Giannine starts the game, the Rasmussem Gaming Center has technical difficulties and she becomes stuck in the alternate reality. She must complete the difficult and perilous quest as quickly as possible - if she takes too long, she risks brain damage and even death in real life.
Heir Apparent has a very creative plot line, but it is also comparable to Conor Kostick's novel, Epic, and the popular movie, Groundhog Day. Specifically, Kostick's Epic also involves virtual reality games, but it is geared towards an older audience. Plus, Heir Apparent is reminiscent of Groundhog Day in that Giannine is stuck repeating the same quest over and over until she manages to complete it successfully. She doesn't know if she will be able to escape from the game, just like Phil from Groundhog Day when he has to relive the same day until he changes his attitude. I love Vande Velde's writing because it shares characteristics with these other two works; however, I'm not sure if these similar aspects are intentional or not.
Virtual reality games are beginning to make their mark in modern day society. Just about a week ago, Entertainment Magazine had an article all about how these games are becoming more available to society through video game systems such as the Wii and the Xbox Kinect. Users can immerse their bodies in the games; for example, in Wii bowling, the user swings his or her arm as if throwing a bowling ball. However, with new inventions like Google Glass, these games are about to become a whole lot more realistic. I have high hopes for these inventions, but after reading Heir Apparent, I realize that we must be very careful with technology. Heir Apparent is a very engaging read, especially for younger readers who are late elementary and middle schoolers. I would recommend it to science fiction lovers as well.