Vivian Vande Velde Main Page
User Unfriendly
Ages: 10 & up
Publisher: Hartcourt
Book Description:

14-year-old Arvin and his friends risk using a computer-controlled role-playing game to simulate a magical world in which they actually become fantasy characters, even though the computer program is a pirated one containing unpredictable errors.

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Review
Where do you GET those ideas?
Excerpt
More Stuff

Review

"Readers who are fond of either sword and sorcery, fantasy or role-playing games will not be able to put this swashbuckler down." -- Publishers Weekly

Where do you GET those ideas?

I wrote User Unfriendly because I was interested in Dungeons and Dragons--a game which is like having a bunch of writers get together to brainstorm ideas for a story.  The trouble with Dungeons and Dragons is that so much time is spent rolling the various dice, so I thought I should set the story just far enough into the future where the kids could be playing a type of game beyond virtual reality, where they would actually feel as though they were in the game.  That way I could make things more dangerous for them once they couldn't get out.

Excerpt

As we got closer, much closer, we saw something else, but at first we couldn't tell what it was.

"It looks like signs," Thea said eventually.

"Sure," Robin said. "They say KEEP OFF THE GRASS."
We were all too exhausted to laugh.

We couldn't make out the wording until we reached the actual edge of the desert, which was a distinct boundary, a strip no more than ten yards wide, where the ground got sandier and the grass got sparser. Beyond that, the sand was as thick and white as in a brand-new sandbox.

What each of the signs said was BEWARE OF THE SAND HANDS.

"Sand hands?" Robin said. "Sand hands? What in the world are sand hands?"

We all looked at each other. We all shrugged.

"I never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life," Robin said. He took a step into the sandy area before the desert. And another. Still nothing happened. He took another step and his foot sank deeper in the sand than he had anticipated, causing him to stumble. He pulled himself upright, then pitched forward again. "Hey!" he yelled, surprised. Then, "Hey!" he cried again. And there was fear in his voice.

From where we stood, we saw... Well, it sure looked like a hand to me. A human hand. It had hold of Robin's right ankle, and it tugged. Robin's entire foot disappeared under the sand...

More Stuff

Giannine Bellisario, Arvin's friend who is playing the role of the elf warrior Thea Greenleaf of the Greenmeadow Clan, gets to tell her own story as the main character in Heir Apparent. You'd have thought she'd learned her lesson during the playing of the game in User Unfriendly, but in Heir Apparent she decides to play another Rasmussem game, and things once again go wrong.

 

 

 Link to Heir Apparent

 

 

 

 

Deadly Pink is another book that features a role-playing game developed by Rasmussem Corp, but in this case there are totally new characters.

  Link to Deadly Pink

which, being for a slightly older audience, can be found in the BOOKS FOR TEENS section

 

A note about sequels: Link to Sequels

 

Original paperback cover for User Unfriendly: