Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

Heir Apparent

Author: Vivian Vande Velde
Publisher: Harcourt Publishing

4 out of 5 stars

Giannine Bellisario is the heir to the throne. Raised as a peasant girl, she never knew of her true origins, until now. King Cynric is dead, and his dying wish was for his daughter to become the new ruler. It is Giannine’s goal to survive until the coronation, and show her subjects and the royal family that she will make a fine ruler. The only problem is that her family despises her, there is a barbarian king who is threatening the realm, the peasants are rebelling, and she smells like sheep. But this is all a game. A virtual reality game known as Heir Apparent. Giannine is the player, and even though everything seems real, none of it is. Or is it?

It’s the future, and they have genetically-engineered, miniature dragons, automated buses run by artificial intelligence, and virtual gaming centers. It is to one of these that Giannine receives a fifty dollar certificate for her fourteenth birthday. However, things aren’t going as planned. It’s her birthday, and the bus won’t let her off at the Rasmussem Gaming Center, as there are picketers protesting outside the building. So what does she do? She gets off a block away and heads over to the Gaming Center on foot. Finally, she has made it, and now maybe things will go in the right direction.

Or maybe not. Giannine is now in the virtual gaming center, to escape from her reality. The thing about virtual gaming centers is that everything seems real. When you are hooked up, the smells, tastes, sounds, and feelings all register as real. But it’s all just a game. Right?

For Giannine, this is more than just a game. The picketers break into the building and damage the machines. After a surprise visit in the game from Mr. Rasmussem himself, Giannine is told that she has to make it out alive. She only has a limited amount of time to beat the game and make it out safely. If she doesn’t win, it will be real… when the game is over, her life will be over as well.

She can do this, it’s only a video game after all. How hard can it be? Very hard Giannine soon realizes. After repeat tries, and constantly having to start over, things are not looking so good. There are multiple ways to win, but can Giannine figure any of them out? Will she be stuck in this game forever, until time, and her life, runs out? All is revealed in Vivian Vande Velde’s epic account of trial and error in, Heir Apparent!

This was quite an adventure of blunders, that’s for sure, but Giannine is a very determined princess, to say the least. I loved how after many mistakes Giannine would hit her forehead, and finally realize her fatal fault. Heir Apparent is an adventure worth reading, and is great for kids, teens, and adults alike. It is written so spectacularly, that I felt I was in the virtual game, standing right next to Giannine.

I appreciated very much how Giannine made mistakes. She wasn’t a world-class gamer, and being told that she either had to beat the game or die for real, does present a great deal of stress. It was also fun to think of ways she could beat the game as I read Heir Apparent. Every time she had to start over, it was like I had a pad and pen, and would mentally scratch out that idea. However, Giannine had some very innovative ways to try to beat the game that were not like everyone else’s.

This was also another aspect that I enjoyed, the fact that the player could try to beat the game in any way possible. There was no set way to do things. This made reading Heir Apparent all the more fun, as I truly got to see different perspectives of looking at things. Many different ways were tried that I would have never even thought of. Plus, it was fun to look at each problem, and each try to figure out a way to overcome it. For me, I don’t think this ever got old.

Seeing the way in which the characters in the game changed in different situations was also intriguing. If Giannine did something different from her previous attempt, a whole new spectrum was opened up. New problems and solutions presented themselves. The entire story was like one big puzzle that constantly needed to be solved.

However, I would have liked to see some characters befriend Giannine, or just become more permanent fixtures in the story. In Heir Apparent, it seemed that everything and everyone is against her. She received absolutely no help unless she begged, or bribed, for it. In the beginning, it is as if everyone is programmed not to give her any help at all. The game seemed a bit too hard. However, this made me, and Giannine, think even harder of ways to succeed. It also made the game feel much more realistic.

To cut a long story short, Heir Apparent, is a riveting tale that expresses the moral, “Try, try, try again,” and to always look for ways to think outside the box. Join Giannine as she ventures to reach the seemingly impossible end, and make it out alive in, Heir Apparent!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Check out the Heir Apparent website at
Heir Apparent is available from Amazon here.


  1. Yay! I love VVV and this book was a lot of fun. I agree, I enjoyed trying to figure out how to get out of the game.

    Have you read User Unfriendly? I think I liked that one even more.

  2. This was a great book, and trying to figure out different ways to beat the game was one of my favorite parts!

    I haven't read User Unfriendly, but I can't wait to check it out.

  3. This sounds interesting to me. I am not much of a game-minded person, but I am intrigued by the world that she lives in. Thanks for the review!

  4. I hope you enjoy it! Throughout the book I got so lost in the world, that many times I forgot that Giannine was in a game.


Hi, and welcome to From The Bookshelf of T.B.!

I can't wait to hear what you have to say! I do my best to try and respond to your comments, so check back often. Comment away!