Thursday, December 6, 2018

Review Cross Ups: Tournament Trouble by Sylv Chiang

Tournament Trouble
Publisher: Annick Press*
Release Date: March 13th, 2018
Format: Hardback

My Rating: 
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
An exciting new middle reader series from a debut author.

All twelve-year-old Jaden wants to do is be the best at Cross Ups, the video game he and his friends can’t stop playing. He knows he could be―if only he didn’t have to hide his gaming from his mom, who’s convinced it will make him violent. After an epic match leads to an invitation to play in a top tournament, Jaden and his friends Devesh and Hugh hatch a plan to get him there. But Jaden’s strict parents and annoying siblings, not to mention a couple of bullies and his confusing feelings for his next-door neighbor Cali, keep getting in the way!

Tournament Trouble marks the first book in a planned series by Sylv Chiang, a captivating new voice in middle reader fiction. With sharp dialogue and relatable characters, it chronicles the ups and downs of middle school with a relevant, contemporary twist. Accompanied by Connie Choi’s lively illustrations, Tournament Trouble invites readers into Jaden’s world, and will leave them eagerly awaiting his next adventure.

I don't normally read a lot of middle grade, but when the publisher reached out to me because of my interest in video games, I jumped on the chance to start this series.

Cross Ups is about twelve-year old Jaden who is obsessed with this fighting game called Cross Ups, and he's pretty good at it. The problem is that his mom doesn't like him playing video games because of the violence, so Jaden hides it from his Mom. What I really liked about this is the family dynamic in this book. Jaden and his siblings are mixed race, and there Chinese-born Mom is a little bit of a mystery to them. I thought his mom was a bit overprotective, but I think it was also realistic. As a kid who had overprotective parents, I get Jaden's struggles. As an adult, I get why his mom is so concerned with him playing Cross Ups. I really enjoyed the character development with Jaden's mom, because later you learn why she is so overprotective, which I think is important for kids to understand why their parents are the way they are some times.

I really enjoyed the characters in this one, Jaden's friends Devesh and Hugh feel exactly like the type of friends you have as a kid. I wasn't too into the bullies Flash and Ty, mostly because they did kind of feel like really stereotypical bullies. There wasn't much depth to them. I also loved Jaden's next door neighbor Cali, she had a lot going on in her life and there's a side plot with her struggles in this book. I would love to get a book from her perspective.

One thing that really bothered me in this book is the game chat. In the book, in the game system players can chat with each other via messenger, which is how Jaden gets involved in the tournament. One of the guys that messages him using a lot of abbreviations. It just felt out of place, and felt like slang lingo that would have been used in the early internet days. I don't chat a lot with other gamers, so I asked my boyfriend and he didn't think it was that common anymore except if they are little kids. I do like that in the book this is mentioned as being kind of strange, so at least it's recognized in this book.

All in all, I thought this was an enjoyable quick read. If you have a reluctant reader in your life that likes video games I would recommend this one.

*I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Happy Reads Everyone!