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VOYAAGERANGE: Ages 11 to Adult.
In a sequel to his highly acclaimed Epic (Viking, 2007/VOYA June 2007), Kostick introduces another world-in-a-computer-game. Saga, the world in question, started out as a game but over a two-thousand-year period, it has diverged and become real. Saga is ruled by a corrupt Dark Queen who has plans to live forever by compelling the inhabitants of New Earth to reprogram the original game. Unfortunately for her, a remnant of the game of Epic is left when she takes over New Earth's computers, and Cindella Dragonslayer, the avatar name of a sixteen-year-old game player, is immune to her powers. Other troubles are brewing in Saga as well. Young people, growing disillusioned with the card system that keeps society stratified and many people at a bare subsistence level, are starting to rebel. Among them is a mysterious airboarder named Ghost who has no memories of her life before the age of nine-but she does have an uncanny ability to slow time. The plot and pacing are near perfect in this tale of a world cramped by fear and tradition. The characterization is a bit weak-the Dark Queen seems like a bare caricature-and some problems are too easily resolved. But for both fans of the first book as well as new readers, this sequel is a sure winner. Compulsively readable and palpable (the descriptions of airboarding are a near-physical experience), it will appeal to SF fans across the board. Reviewer: Ann Welton
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)