Into Tordon (Z F Kingbolt, MidnightSun)
In Into Tordon, 14-year-old gamer Bethlyn wins the annual championship of Tordon, her online gaming obsession. But when she agrees to meet up with some of her fellow gamers to prove that she isn’t a cheat, she and her nemesis, Zane, are dragged into an alternate reality. Here, she and Zane must use their gaming skills against deadly foes in order to survive and find their way home. This is an impressive debut, not least because Z F Kingbolt is the pseudonym of 10 dedicated writers working as one. The narrative doesn’t falter, and middle-grade readers will delight at how quickly they are thrown into the action of the story. The tension between Beth and Zane, moving from jealousy to frustration to teamwork, is well done, and the supporting characters in the book are credible in the context of the worlds that Beth and Zane traverse. The worlds themselves are passed through quite quickly, and at times the challenges the pair face could be dialled up a notch or extended to pull readers in deeper, but this is a minor criticism. Into Tordon is a pacy, exciting read that middle-grade readers will love getting sucked into.
Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne-based writer, reviewer and schools coordinator for the Stella Prize