Play the Game

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Jan. 2023. 304p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063212794.
Gr 9 Up–Allen’s debut weaves an intricate story that begins with a young Black student, Ed Hennessey, being shot and killed by a white man in a parking lot in Brooklyn. Four months later, that same white man is killed in the same location, and Jack, a classmate and friend of Ed’s, is arrested. VZ, another of Ed’s friends, decides to honor his friend’s legacy by submitting a video game Ed built for a local competition. As VZ and his friends play the game, they find parallels to the current murder investigation—parallels that might help them exonerate the friend who was arrested. The riveting plot will captivate readers, and Allen perfectly captures the dialogue of modern teens, who are sure to see their own conversations reflected in this narrative. Readers will be hooked by the video game story-within-a-story that leads to solving the mystery.
VERDICT Told through beautiful dialogue, humor, and video gaming, this exquisitely written debut offers teens nuanced views on complex societal issues.

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