• Title: Crusader
  • Author: Edward Bloor
  • Released: 1999-10-15
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 400
  • ISBN: 0152019448
  • ISBN13: 978-0152019440
  • ASIN: 0152019448
A steamy, swampy Florida setting and the threat of a repressed memory are two of the elements in Edward Bloor's first young adult novel, , that made it an instant suburban gothic classic. His follow-up, Crusader, delves even deeper into the dark side of suburbia, exposing racism, virtual violence, and even murder behind the sunny facade of a Florida strip mall.

Fifteen-year-old Roberta works hard every afternoon and weekend in the family business, a virtual reality arcade in the West End Mall. She keeps her mind off the fact that the arcade is slowly going under and that her father ignores her existence, but she cannot ignore the fact of her mother's brutal murder seven years ago. Roberta's quest to find her mother's killer weaves together several skillfully constructed subplots, including a shady political scheme to ruin the mall, real and imagined hate crimes against an Arab store owner, and how the Crusader itself, a virtual reality game, serves as the catalyst that ignites and unites these seemingly unrelated factors in Roberta's life. Bloor's brooding, densely plotted page turner is an incredibly original novel that will engage teens on several levels. Though it is almost 400 pages long, the nonstop action and many startling revelations will keep teens transfixed until the very last sentence. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

From Publishers Weekly Although the jacket and flap copy play to readers interested in virtual reality, cyber-adventure is only a very small component of this ambitious second novel from the author of the acclaimed Tangerine. Fifteen-year-old Roberta spends her time at a mall, working for her alcoholic Uncle Frank in a virtual reality arcade that features "experiences" for xenophobic violence-mongers: in the war game Crusader, for example, players kill Arab "Infidels." Everything around Roberta is skewed, from the misfits who work at the arcade for no pay (just getting to play the games is enough) to the mall, where the businesses are struggling and the management is corrupt. Home is even stranger. Her mother is dead and her father neglects her, spending all his time with the horrible Suzie, the mall manager. Roberta herself is an oddball, often mistaken for a boy and slow to emerge as a strong characterAreaders will have to be patient to see her personality take shape. The story is long and packed with subplots, veering from local politics (hate crimes and environmentalism) to teenage suicide, the inner workings of a TV studio and Roberta's quest to uncover the truth about her mother's death. A scheme to expose a dishonest politician is baroque and anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the characters are sharply drawn (racist Hawg is not an entirely bad guy; shallow teen beauty Nina helps out in a pinch), and Roberta is full of surprises. While flawed, this novel is deeper, denser and more complex than most YA fare, and serious readers will appreciate it. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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