Our Friend is Here!is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
If you are a gamer looking for a good book about gaming or if you have a young person in your life who loves playing or watching e-sport, then you won’t go wrong with Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao, a book about a Chinese-American girl who is an up-and-coming amateur e-sport player of a battle royale VR game called Dayhold. I had the pleasure of reading Last Gamer Standing last week – I even reviewed it! – and as a fellow gamer, I can attest to how good this book is.
Twelve-year-old Reyna Cheng is the up-and-coming junior amateur Dayhold gamer, competing in a VR battle royale against AI monsters and human players alike. But despite Reyna’s rising popularity and skills, no one know who she is. Gaming is still a boy’s club and to protect herself against trolls, she games as the mysterious TheRuiNar.
When Reyna qualifies for the Dayhold Junior Tournament sponsored by her favorite team, she knows she’s got what it takes to win the championship title and the $10,000 prize.
But when she’s blackmailed and threatened to be doxed, having her personal identity revealed, by an anonymous troll, Reyna will have to deal with a toxic gaming community, family complications, and the increasing pressure to win as the tournament gets underway.
I have been a gamer for almost 20 years – so naturally, gaming has a very special place in my heart. Starting with single-player RPGs, then pouring way too many of my teen years into MMORPGs, to online Team Deathmatches, and then, later, a return to action RPGs, which I now play every day. I have been a gamer for almost all of my life, and as a consequence I have craved for good books about gaming. Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao is such a book. Set in the distant future, not only does Last Gamer Standing have an accurate portrayal of gaming where gaming isn’t framed as a context or setting, gaming is at the very core of its story– one that actually understands gaming and gamers.
Just over a little more than a year ago, I had the delight of reading The Dragon Warrior. I have a very fond memory of sitting in bed in my hotel room during a work trip, feeling alone and only having the company of my ARC copy of The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao. And when I read Katie’s middle-grade debut, about a young Asian girl who was The Chosen One and wielded the power of dragons and went on this incredible adventure – I didn’t feel alone anymore; I felt excited, empowered, and like I had gone on an incredible journey.
Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
I think one of the most powerful things about children’s literature is being told that, no matter how small you may be, you hold immense power to do good and amazing things. Growing up, the books I read were very formative to me. Whenever I wasn’t sure on what to do or how I wanted to navigate social situations – intermediate (middle) school is no joke! – I turned to literary characters and wondered what they would have done.
As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.
Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.
With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?
Listen: I am the sort of reader that likes to withhold judgement of a book within the first few chapters of a book, let alone the first few pages. However, when you read the dedication of The Dragon Warrior and find that it is dedicated to immigrants, children of immigrants, and diaspora kids everywhere? The diasporic child within me that imagined vivid sweeping stories about dragons and wielding magic powers as some foretold magic warrior will undoubtedly rise up, excited, rearing to go on an adventure.