Life was going great for Maddy Starr. She had her group of friends to gush to about crushes and other girly things, she went to a nice school, and she had her manga club. That is, until her parents called it quits, resulting in a move from the city to a small town where this manga loving, Gothic styled girl just knew she would not fit in.
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After a torture filled first day of her grandmother forcing her to wear a unicorn sweater to school after not approving of Maddy’s outfit choice, being targeted by the schools clique of bullies, being designated “Freak Girl” of the school and realizing that her friends from Boston Academy had already moved on and left her behind, Maddy just knew that this school was going to be hell on Earth.
However, things started to look up a bit after Maddy’s father decided to buy her the MMORPG game, Fields of Fantasy for her birthday. When she started the game, she created her elven character, Allora. She then ventured with Allora to an area that was a bit past her skill level at the time. Just as she was about to give up hope on the game after being killed several times in a row by wolves, she was saved by a character named SirLeo.
Maddy’s online life as Allora seemed to be going so smoothly, venturing alongside SirLeo and secretly falling for him, but her real life suffered as she was mocked and bullied by Billy Henderson and his clique every single day, all while crushing on Chad Murray, who was part of the clique but Maddy wasn’t convinced that he was like the rest of them.
After chatting with Maddy one day, Chad told her about a manga competition that he thought she should enter. She decided that it would be a good opportunity to win enough money to pay for tuition to her old school, Boston Academy. Maddy had already been working very hard on a manga about a girl who was sucked into a fantasy world and had to venture to make her way home, so it was a perfect opportunity. Maddy also decided to start up a manga club at school with the help of Ms. Reilly, who had previously informed Maddy that she was also interested in manga.
The manga club seemed to be a hit for such a small school. Maddy was able to finally make some friends which was fantastic. Meanwhile, in her online world, she was still falling so hard for SirLeo who was falling for her…Allora, as well. SirLeo one day mentions that he wished that she attended his school in Farmingdale because he would ask her out. Maddy fought hard with herself not to tell him she was from Farmingdale as well, brushing it off as maybe there were many other towns called Farmingdale. However, she did know that they were in the same time zone. Maybe they did go to the same school.
Who exactly was SirLeo? Would the real life SirLeo like Maddy as herself even though she wasn’t her beautiful elven character, Allora? She was so torn knowing the dangers of revealing her true identity online as well as crushing on a virtual guy and a guy in real life. Would the bullying ever stop? Would anyone stand up to these bullies?
Gamer Girl is a fantastic book for gamers, manga enthusiasts, and anime lovers, especially those who may have dealt with bullying regarding these matters. I know I was bullied for some of the same things, and when I picked up this book for the first time in high school it was an inspiration. I remembered it just recently and decided it was a good book to write about and introduce others to. I can relate to Maddy in so many ways and I know many others can as well.
While I wasn’t any good at anime or manga related art I still enjoyed drawing it very much as an expressive outlet. I was no where near the kind of talent that Maddy in the story is, but I did play video games as well as watching anime and reading manga, and I had a small group of friends that I could enjoy that with as well. I can relate to her hesitance to start a manga club at such a small school, fearing that no one would join. But, this book is a great inspiration. I did start a manga/anime club at my school. It didn’t last terribly long, but we did enjoy ourselves. Maddy Starr is an inspiration to otaku and gamers alike.
Mari Mancusi opened my eyes with this book and gave me so much inspiration in high school to just be who I was and to let the haters hate and not let them get to me. And I want others who have the same interests and have been in the same situations to have the chance to read this book as well.