Friday, December 7, 2018

Review Cross Ups: Anyone's Game By Sylv Chiang

Cross Ups: Anyone's Game By Sylv Chiang
Publisher: Annick Press*
Release Date: September 11th, 2018
Format: Hardback

My Rating: ★1/2
GoodReads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
What’s up with Cali? Why does she keep changing her gamer tag?

It’s summertime, and even though his good friend Cali moved to another city, Jaden can connect with her online almost every day to play their favorite game, Cross Ups. His mom has loosened her rules on how often he can play, and he has an amazing new controller that will make him even better at tournaments. But then he gets roped into a dorky summer camp with his buddy Hugh, and Cali starts acting really weird . . . So when a last-minute tournament spot opens up in Cali’s city, Jaden jumps at the chance to go. 

But things go badly from the start. Jaden loses his controller on the train, and his reunion with Cali is awkward. She’s unhappy, and Jaden can’t figure out why, especially when she’s getting better and better at Cross Ups—and may even win the tournament. 

With its sharp dialogue and relatable characters, Anyone’s Game, the second book in the Cross Ups series, chronicles the ups and downs of middle school with a relevant, contemporary twist.

Thanks to Annick Press for sending me the second book of Sylv Chiang's Cross Ups Series!

In the second book, we see a little more of how Cali is fairing in Montreal with her Dad and his new girlfriend. Cali is having a really tough time, but it's not just because of having to live with a screaming baby sister. I think Cali's life can be relatable to a lot of kids of divorced parents. It's tough for kids enough in middle school trying to find their place in life, so Cali's struggles felt very real to me. I appreciated that the author wanted to tackle the topic of harassment in gaming and what female gamers go through, but I feel like it falls a little flat with it coming from Jaden's perspective. I think this story would have been more impactful if it came from Cali's point of view.
I really love Jaden's sister Melanie and her relationship with Cali. Cali is having a really hard time in her life, and Jaden is kind of a bad friend who is blind to her struggles. I really liked that Melanie had a connection with Cali, and I was glad to see Jaden have a big sister to explain to him why writing the messages that Cali was getting was wrong. Also, even though Melanie has ulterior motives, I don't know a lot of sisters that would help their brothers get to another city so they can play in a video game competition. I do love the family in this book series.

I liked the concept of the plot in this book, but what I did not like was how Jaden tried to brush it off as being just how gamers talk. Um, NO! It's not okay. He also tries to make excuses for other people that you find out are doing this bad behavior, and it just made me feel uncomfortable. I do think this book has a really good lesson to show, and I'm glad it's written in this book, but some of the execution of it didn't sit well with me.

I think Cali is my favorite character, this girl is tough! I'm glad to see that she gets to use her skills and smarts to overcome the struggles she is having. I also do like that both her and Jaden are a bit confused about their relationship. They both just want to be friends, but it feels like everyone assumes Cali is Jaden's girlfriend. I really like that they both just want to be platonic friends, because there are not a lot of series that have a healthy platonic male and female friendship. It's something I want to see more of because my best friend from College is a dude, and during college everyone always thought we were dating, and it got real annoying.

I still enjoyed this book, but just not as much as the first one. Second books can be hard, so I want to give it the benefit of the doubt. I know the author is working on a third book, so I am definitely interested in what is going to happen with these characters next.

*I was provided a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This in no way effects my review.

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Happy Reads Everyone!