I received this book for free from Bloomsbury USA Childrens in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on January 3rd 2017
Source: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone is a prisoner in her own house. Everything she says and does 24/7 is being taped and broadcast to every television in America. Why? Because her dad is dying of a brain tumor and he has auctioned his life on eBay to the highest bidder: a ruthless TV reality show executive at ATN.
Gone is her mom's attention and cooking and parent-teacher conferences. Gone is her sister's trust ever since she's been dazzled by the cameras and new-found infamy. Gone is her privacy. Gone is the whole family's dignity as ATN twists their words and makes a public mockery of their lives on Life and Death. But most of all, Jackie fears that one day very soon her father will just be . . . gone. Armed only with her ingenuity and the power of the internet, Jackie is determined to end the show and reclaim all of their lives, even in death.
Hazel Huck liked games. She liked them a lot.
She liked games of skill (chess and crossword puzzles), she liked games of chance (Yahtzee and Risk), but the games she liked best of all were role-playing games. From the off-line worlds of Dungeons & Dragons to the online universes of EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, and World of Warcraft, Hazel liked nothing better than to lose herself in someone else’s skin. To be a giant elf warrior with 150 hit points was to be invincible; she spent every free moment she was allowed living in those worlds. It was how she fought against the ebb and flow of her daily grind.
Hazel was a square peg in a round hole. From a well-to-do family in Huntsville, Alabama, she should have, at seventeen years old, been preparing for her debutante ball. Her classmates at the Florence Nightingale School for Young Women seemed obsessed with their coming-out parties. But not Hazel. To her, the notion of officially entering society seemed anachronistic at best and embarrassing at least. Her parents, attorneys with a practice focusing on maritime law, were disappointed but respected their daughter’s independence.
Other than schoolwork and family obligations—chores, visits with aunts and uncles, mandatory attendance at church on Sundays—Hazel lived in a virtual world. Her closest friends were members of her Warcraft guild. And why not? They were interesting. She’d never met them, but she knew more about them than she did any of the girls at school. One was a middle-aged businessman from New York; another a high school girl from Bolivia; another claimed to be a published science fiction author, though he (she?) would never reveal the names of his (her?) books, stories, or publishers. It didn’t matter. You could be who or what you wanted in that world, not only in the characters you played but in the stories you never told.
In her first foray into online gaming, Hazel was nervous about her own story—or what she thought was her own lack of story—so she made one up. She claimed to be in graduate school studying English literature at a university “somewhere in Europe.” Other people seemed impressed, and before she knew it, there was no escape from her lie. To make her online persona seem plausible, she conducted exhaustive research into the most important English lit doctoral programs in the UK and France. She was always ready with some new tidbit of information to support her tale. Over time, she came to believe that this character—whom she publicly called Tess—really did exist. It was too late to tell people she was a high school student—a freshman when she first spun this particular yarn and now a senior—from Alabama. She embraced the fiction and let the lie stand.
Hazel was casting a Circle of Healing spell when an instant message from a Warcraft friend popped on the screen. The IM said:
Can you believe this? ROTFL!
and included a link to Jared’s eBay listing.
But Hazel wasn’t laughing.
Jan 3—Swoony Boys Podcast
Jan 4—Ex Libris
Jan 5—Peace Love Books
Jan 6—Reading is Better with Cupcakes
Jan 9—Here’s to Happy Endings
Jan 10—WhoRU Blog
Jan. 11—Dazzled By Books
Jan. 12—It Starts at Midnight
Jan. 13—The Story Sanctuary