Cure for the Common Universe
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
May 31, 2016
Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . . ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him. Jaxon’s first date. Ever. In rehab, he can’t blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can’t slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he’ll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date. If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother’s absence, and maybe admit that it’s more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection. Prepare to be cured.
“Where the novel really shines is in Jaxon’s interactions—as a white, upper-middle-class boy—with campmates who are diverse in terms of both ethnicity and sexuality, and who challenge some of his preexisting assumptions. In confronting Jaxon’s privilege and complicated family history, the book eschews easy answers for a more authentic ending that promises that the work of self-improvement is ongoing and difficult.”–Publishers Weekly
“This novel is reminiscent of Vizzini’s The Other Normals or Yang’s Level Up. Notably (and happily), however, it avoids the typical game-blaming and recognizes excessive time online as the symptom, not the cause, of these kids’ problems…Gamer readers will flock to this novel and fall in love with its insider jokes, game-allusions, and snarky attitude. They’re also likely to identify with Jaxon’s frustrations, root for him to win, and appreciate seeing him learn a (very) little something in the end.”–The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books