Summary: Headed to Toronto for StrifeCon, the convention for Kingdom of Strife fans, Orin, his brother Baz and his friends Landon and Rasheen are expecting an awesome gaming weekend. Instead, a well-known game loot vendor is killed and Baz is framed for his death. As an insider in the gaming world, Orin feels it is up to him to follow up the clues missed by the police. Aided by his friends as well as Neya, a kick ass player herself, Orin pursues the killer’s trail through the real and virtual world, trying to balance competing in the PvP tournament with clearing Baz’s name.
Number of Pages: 257
Age Range: 13-15
Review: It was completely over-the-top, but I had fun reading Ganked by Liam O’Donnell. From witty humour to dramatic action scenes, it was an entertaining read with a great mystery.
I loved the Star Wars references once I realised they were purposeful, and I was instantly immersed in the Massively Multiplayer Online gaming world. Even though I wasn’t a gamer, my lack of knowledge didn’t hold me back from enjoying O’Donnell’s story.
My favourite character was Neya, because she was fierce. I’m not sure I would have been able to participate in a Player versus Player tournament after a close family member had just been murdered, but O’Donnell helped me understand why gaming was so important to her. There’s more depth to gaming than I originally thought, because it seems to provide players with a sense of accomplishment and can actually be a source of income.
I liked that Orin was dedicated to clearing his brother’s name to keep his family together. He stuck by Baz declaring his innocence even when it looked like he was the only one who could have committed the murder.
My one complaint was that I wanted Neya’s uncle to have more motivation for the things he did. I was glad O’Donnell provided enough detail for a noob like me to understand what was going on, but I still wanted more background because I was hooked. Maybe a prequel to tell Neya’s uncle’s story from when he was in college.
Ganked moves smoothly as a story despite a couple of editing issues, and if O’Donnell comes up with other Geeked Out Mysteries, I would read them. Definitely a must read for teen gamers.
“Maybe I was being paranoid, but it felt like everyone’s eyes were on me as I moved through StrifeCon. People spoke in whispers as I passed. A few took photos of me, but casually and from a distance. It wasn’t like celebrity-hunting because I was some hot PvP superstar. It was more like when people slow down to rubberneck an accident on the side of the road. My dad used to get so mad at those people when we were on a road trip. He said they were like vultures feeing off someone else’s tragedy. Mom would try to calm him down while Baz and I would press our noses against the window, fighting for the best view of the carnage. Now I was the heap of twisted metal on the side of the road. The vultures were staring at me.” – Orin from Ganked by Liam O’Donnell, pages 53-54
“Neya played with the fury of a long-trapped demon newly released. Hazel eyes glued to the screen, elegant fingers dancing on the keys, mouse moving in a blur as she constructed her next move, luring, charming, and cajoling her opponents into their own fiery funeral. She was a bringer of doom to all who opposed her. I didn’t know if I was falling in love or beginning to fear for my life.” – Orin from Ganked by Liam O’Donnell, page 70
“‘He started it.’ I knew I sounded like a sulking first grader, but Landon’s money had a way of seeping into every part of our friendship. I also knew he was right. That’s what really got under my blue-painted skin. Without Landon, there would be no StrifeCon, no hotel, no rental car. The more time I spent around Landon the more I learned money give power. It’s fine to tag along and enjoy the benefits, but things change when the ride gets bumpy and that power turns on you. Only then do you learn who truly has control. Landon seemed to know this all along.” – Orin from Ganked by Liam O’Donnell, page 81
“Only Neya would be thrown off a balcony then refuse help. If there’s one thing I figured out about her, she can take care of herself in game and in real life.” – Orin from Ganked by Liam O’Donnell, page 243
Ganked by Liam O’Donnell is published by Feeding Change Media, (2013).