If you can imagine a Wimpy Kid-Captain Underpants-Scooby-Doo fusion, this might just be it. But that’s also exactly the reason why this book makes me feel old – I wanted to enjoy it so badly, but it had so much fun-yet-nonsensical material that my brain just refused to process certain scenes. Game Over, Pete Watson is a middle-grade spy thriller that feels more bizarre than funny to me, but I think that kids who actually fall in the middle-grade range will enjoy this more than young adults and adults will.
Pete Watson is super excited to buy Brawl-A-Thon 3000 XL, but on the day that the game comes out, he discovers that his mom borrowed twenty dollars from his Brawl-A-Thon savings jar without telling him. Desperate times call for desperate measures – Pete holds an impromptu garage sale, digging up things that he’s sure his parents won’t miss, including his dad’s old game console. But the CommandRoid isn’t just any old game console, and when it gets into the wrong hands, Pete’s dad gets trapped inside a video game and the president of the United States starts behaving strangely on TV. Pete needs to get the CommandRoid back in order to save his dad and also save the world from a potentially disastrous cyber attack.
Pete is pretty much like any other videogame-obsessed boy (but hopefully other boys get permission from their parents first before holding a garage sale), with awkward friends and a huge crush on his ex-babysitter. He has a great sense of humor, and he’s consciously writing this book, which makes it more amusing. Pete even boasts about how the digital version of this book will be able to play sounds and videos and do other high-tech things… and the chapter titles (such as “Hooray! Everything’s Great! Until it isn’t.”) are hilarious.
The artwork in Game Over, Pete Watson is also fantastic. Andy Rash is an amazing illustrator (who is also an author!) and this book wouldn’t have been half as good without the cute cartoons strewn about.
The plot, on the other hand, is bewildering at best. If a plot could be on steroids, this is what it would look like. The transitions from game-lost-oh-no to who-stole-the-game to who-wants-to-destroy-the-world-with-the-game are rushed and confusing, and it doesn’t help that the backstory isn’t completely explained. A younger audience might not care since the action and adventure bits are quite exciting, and really, this is meant to be a quick and entertaining book, so who cares about the details when you might get a killion dollars?
“The killion is a number so large that it would literally kill you, which is why most people haven’t heard of it. It was discovered by a man named Ian Frazier back in the eighties. Most mathematicians who have tried to count that high have started getting really sick and had to stop.”
But alas, I’m not so young anymore, so I’m constantly caught up in how one event leads to another, and Game Over, Pete Watson has such a random plot that it bothered me to no end.
Game Over, Pete Watson is a book seemingly marketed to a very specific reader population. I am, unfortunately, not part of that population. Although the protagonist and the cartoons are awesome, this book lacks a coherent plot and ended up giving me a headache.