I have to admit I didn’t think I would like Rush by Eve Silver. I had written a previous review about a book that tied gaming skills to surviving an apocalyptic event and it wasn’t very good, so my opinion was tainted going in. Not to mention that my idea of being a gamer is along the lines of my own personal experience, which was Pacman, not current games like Destiny, World of Warcraft, etc. However, I was pleasantly surprised that while the construct of the plot was that teens are pulled into the Game to fight aliens, the game wasn’t truly the focus, but rather it was on relationships, and by relationships I am not referring to the ubiquitous teen romance. The most important relationship in the book is really between the main character and her father.
Miki is already in a tough spot even before she gets pulled into the game. She lost her mother to cancer not long ago and she is struggling to deal with her father’s drinking and her own anger at both of these events. Although she has developed coping methods such as running, and doing deep breathing exercises, she is not doing well and her friends know it. She has become detached from her circle of friends and even her best friendship is strained when a former classmate, Luka moves back to town.
Miki seems to be the only one of her friends to notice the trajectory of a truck about to crash into a deaf elementary student, but maybe that’s helped by the voice she suddenly starts hearing in her head, a voice she can’t seem to figure out. It’s a voice that seems to be encouraging her to rescue the child, a choice that will impact Miki in a way she never would have expected. After being knocked out, she wakes somewhere else and the voice that was in her head is now coming out of a boy who is bent over her. The mysterious boy, Jackson Tate, directs her to suit up and stick close to him because the team, which includes old classmate Luka have a mission. The mission is to kill the aliens before they destroy the earth, but this is no game even if the players are award points, because it’s possible to die in the game. The game she is not allowed to talk about with her friends or her father when she is returned to her life between missions. It’s not like her life between missions is restful downtime, not with her father’s drinking and trying to deal with her angry best friend, a best friend who doesn’t know what she is going through inside the Game. Also, Miki is a little different than the other players, and it’s those differences that bond her to Jackson, but threaten to destroy one or both of them.
I thought the author did a good job of channeling teenage characters and the kind of things that are important to them, without making the characters annoying, which happens often in YA books. This is one of those YA books that even adults enjoy.