Ah, the nostalgia. There is nothing like playing the old-school video games. My personal favorites were Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog. Mario, Luigi, Sonic, Knuckles, etc, had to journey through various worlds, battle different creatures, overcome various obstacles, and along the way, collect various helpful items such as coins, mushrooms, stars, and flowers that helped them shoot fireballs. If they touched a monster once, they shrank. Twice, they died in a very dramatic manner (jumping straight up in the air with a look of shock on their face before falling off the edge of the edge of the screen. Goofy synthesizer music plays both during the game and upon the death of a character.
I haven’t played Minecraft (and I’m afraid to start; it might become addictive and cause me to waste a lot of time), but from Marshall’s description of it in his children’s novel Rescue Island: Flynn’s Log 1, it sounds like it operates under the same principles. The characters battle monsters, eat food provided by the digital world to restore their lives, and collect items necessary for survival or extra protection. The novel revolves around a hacker known as Flynn. Flynn has no memory of his previous life as he finds that he is a digital character in Minecraft. He battles giant spiders, hunts and fishes for food, and builds shelter. His only companion is an ocelot named Verve (and later, Verve’s daughter Khan). Soon, he finds out that it is his destiny to connect the digital and the physical worlds, and is unsure of how to do that.
If there is a secret to getting kids engaged in reading, I think Marshall has it. Marshall seems to understand that you have to write around kids’ interest and not try to enforce outdated, archaic material on them. I hope elementary schools are beating down Marshall’s door to buy the book. If there were more novels like Rescue Island, then schools wouldn’t struggle so much to get kids to read. I will be ordering a copy for my daughter. If you have a child age 5-12, I highly recommend this as a must-read. I also think adolescents and adults would enjoy this whimsical but action-packed novel as well.