Book Review: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

…is one of the funniest books I’d read.

It’s been one of my favorites, and I’ve read it so many times over that I’ve lost count. It probably should retire sometime soon.

It started with a girl named Giannine who received a gift certificate to Rasmussem Gaming Center on her birthday.

She went to the arcade and chose the single player RPG, in a game called Heir Apparent. In that game, she was an illegitimate child of a King who grew up with a foster family. The king decided to crown her, despite having three princes on the line for the throne, and Giannine, playing as her character Janine, had to survive three days until her coronation.

And every time she got killed, Janine would have to start over from the beginning of the game.

Imagine how frustrating that would be. You might have a million ways to win, but you are presented with a million ways to lose. Or even worse, get killed.

The story is told from first person narrative, which makes us go hand in hand with Giannine during the game. We see what she sees, feel what she feels, and laugh whenever she sarcastically comments on the situation surrounding her.

Let me just tell you this: Giannine is hilarious. She’s the kind of girl you’d want to sit down, have coffee with, while talking shit about the current global affairs. Or anything, really.

And the game takes Giannine to a journey that’s beyond her expectation. As the game frustrates her (her being transported back to the beginning every time she gets killed, non stop until she won, that is) it all teaches her a lot of things. Giannine, whose parents divorced early, and was raised by her grandmother, struggles in her stage of puberty. She isn’t at the phase of understanding the world completely, but a fast learner if only she’s taught.

The game stimulates her to see things differently, to try different approaches to “how to win the damn game,” and more than so, help her understand her current situation in the real world through her decisions and thoughts in the game.

As the game comes to an end, Giannine finds herself coming to terms with her bitterness, and grows up more than the time allows.

The book never fails to make me laugh. Never.

Whenever I’m in a bad mood, I open this book and re read it. Time flies quickly. You’ll keep turning pages due to curiosity towards “What’s going to happen? Is she gonna win?” that’s revolving around our main protagonist.

It’s a fast paced book, with enough details that you can actually view the world in your mind, and just enough narration to know what Giannine is going through.

I love it.

I might be a bit biased due to my love for this book. But I do believe that everyone would enjoy this as a fun read.

Heir Apparent is an 8/10. In my personal opinion, it is, if not one of, Vivian Vande Velde’s best work.


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