The Once and Future Geek (The Camelot Code #1)
Now, with the help of the great wizard Merlin, modern-day gamer-geeks Sophie and Stu find themselves in a race against time to get that sword pulled from the stone and the stubborn soon-to-be-king Arthur back to the past where he belongs. Complicating the plan? Lady Morgana-Arthur's sister and greatest enemy-has traveled to the future as well, determined to take Arthur out and seize the throne. Can Sophie and Stu use their gaming abilities to defeat the evil Morgana and set the timeline right? With the very existence of their friendship, their families, and the world as they know it (including pepperoni pizza!) at stake, they'll use every skill, power-up, and cheat code they know in their quest to save the day.
Nice Twist on a Classic
Guinevere and Arthur get along quite well, practicing their fighting and trying to stay out of the way of the knights who terrorize the peasants they are trying to help. They are young, and Arthur's position is precarious, but they care for each other deeply. In modern times, Sophie and Stu hang out together and are big fans of a video game where they must defeat the evil Morgana. However, Stu's step brother Lucas has gotten Stu to try out for the soccer team, and Sophie feels him slipping away from her. When Guinevere and Arthur accidentally lose a very important sword from Merlin's collection right before a big tournament, Merlin has to use his powers to get the weapon back, and this includes sending Sophie a computer code that makes her travel back in time! When Arthur gets pulled to the present, and Stu goes back to impersonate Arthur and pulls the sword from the stone while under a glamor to look like him, things get oddly complicated. Add to this the trouble the kids have with their romances (Arthur Googles himself in the present day and finds out about Guinevere's relationship with Lancelot, which doesn't make him happy!), and the precarious situation that time travel and changing the course of history puts them in, and this is a harrowing twist on the Arthurian cycle.
I read an interview with the author that this started out as more of a young adult title, and the romances in the book back that up. They are completely appropriate for middle grades, but the depth of the emotion and the expected length of the relationships made them seem more like high schoolers. Since this reflects the characters in the original, I think this is a good choice. You can't very well have Guinevere and Lancelot date only for two weeks, which is about average for a middle school relationship!
Hand this one to readers who can't get enough of this era and have already read Gale's The Wizard's Dog, Yolen's Sword of the Rightful King, Reeve's Here Lies Arthur, McKenzie's Guinevere's Gamble, Crossley-Holland's The Seeing Stone, and everything by Gerald Morris!