There’s a sad sort of clanging from a clock in a hall, telling us that it is soon time to say goodbye to the month of November. On the bright side (in a dark season), this means it is time once more for some absurd and untrue words about a book I’ve read this month!
Last week, I had the pleasure of reading Gordon Korman’s The Sixth Grade Nickname Game.
In this dystopian novel, everyone on the planet is assigned a random nickname, which functions as their name in the simulation they log into for about eight hours each day. They learn, work, and play in this simulation – depending on their age and walk of life – with anonymous peers from all around the world, knowing one another by nothing but their nickname handles. Best friends Jeff and Wiley have never met in person, but they have shared a simulation group for almost all of their eleven years, interacting within the confines of their game.
But when Jeff is wrongly accused of a terrible crime, and faces execution, it is no longer a game. Wiley must somehow find his friend in real life, and prove his innocence – or discredit their entire world’s simulation-based legal system – before it’s too late. And he might discover, along the way, whether the aliases they have been assigned were really as random as they thought, or tied to something more sinister…
The Sixth Grade Nickname Game is a chilling portrait of an ever-more-realistic future, while preserving the genuine spirit of its young protagonists. I recommend it to any fans of harsh cyber dystopias, sixth grade students, and/or endangered species.