Review Detail

The Good War Featured
Kids Fiction 131
contemporary middle grade with some heavy themes
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
THE GOOD WAR is an intriguing middle grade novel about growing up, the pitfalls and benefits of social media/interactive gaming, and friendship. At a struggling middle school where funding has taken away the football team, Caleb applied with his teacher, Ms. B, to get gaming computers to start an eSports team. This club gets its first members, and they select the game (quickly screened), The Good War, modeled after WWII, which many of the students also play at home.

The teams are chosen and play the Allies and Axis sides. Before long, these roles take on more and dangerous power. In addition, one of the members who plays at home is exposed to other players who are white supremacists, and this influence is as insidious as one would expect. The book ultimately deals with the dangers of communication online, the need to understand history, and the evolving identity of children this age.

What I loved: While it starts very light with some gross humor (loogies spit onto the bathroom ceiling), the book ultimately covers some heavy topics. These themes, including those about social media, prejudices/racism, and bullying, are discussed throughout and would be great to accompany discussions after reading the book to give children additional resources and ways that they can seek help if they see something similar happening in real life. Although there are several characters, they were all really intriguing and middle grade readers will enjoy them.

What left me wanting more: The selection of the game (rated M) and escalation seemed implausible in a supervised school club setting (unclear how it got so far). On the flipside, if these things had not happened, the themes would not have been so well explored. There was also some body function humor throughout, which were not my favorite, but will definitely delight some middle grade readers.

Final verdict: Overall, THE GOOD GAME was an intriguing contemporary middle grade novel that deals with some hefty topics. Would recommend reading in communication with adults for additional resources and discussion of the themes.
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