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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

There's a new afterschool club at Ironville Middle School. Ms. Peterson is starting a video game club where the students will playing The Good War, a new game based on World War II. They are divided into two teams: Axis and Allies, and they will be simulating a war they know nothing about yet. Only one team will win. But what starts out as friendly competition, takes an unexpected turn for the worst when an one player takes the game too far. Can an afterschool club change the way the students see eachother...and how they see the world?…

The Good War

by Todd Strasser

Overall Book Review:

As you begin The Good War it seems as though the book will just be about middle schoolers playing video games but as the book continues you discover there is way more to it. The setting is primarily at the middle school of a small, lower income town. After the school loses funding for their football team, one of the students manages to get a grant for new computers to start an esports club at school. The characters who join the teams are quite diverse and the story is told from the point of view of several of them. In the process we get to know many of them well. At the beginning it is difficult to understand the characters and their actions but as the story progresses, we learn that they are dealing with some difficult things. It’s a good reminder that this is the same case in real life.

The author, Todd Strasser, provides a well-written and entertaining story that has excellent character development and great lessons. Due to its esports theme, The Good War will initially appeal to video gamers but it is also a great book for parents to read with their teens (which I highly recommend). There are several mature themes so it can provide the opportunity for parents to have good discussions with their children in regards to hate, racism, genocide, and homophobia, to name a few.

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Random House Children’s Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation; 2 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name; 5 scatological words.

Violence/Gore:  Many (26) brief incidents usually involving tweens  including character is scared of getting beat up by another; character can tear another to pieces in a game; character worrying another had gotten hurt; character’s words making another feel like he’d been stabbed; verbal threats in a video game; characters commenting that others should commit suicide; tween characters pretending to shoot an adult with a toy; reference to a viper striking someone; character’s father hurt back at work; reference to possible school shooting; reference to fake terrorist threats; reference to Nazis killing; reference to characters intentionally hurting others while playing a game; character getting hurt during game in gym class; characters backing another against a wall; reference to concentration camps involving death, disease, starvation; many references to genocide; reference to abortion; second-hand reports of kills in a game; shooting in a game; character’s mom is seriously ill; character involved in a riot with tear gas and weapons being thrown.

Sex/Nudity:  Few (10) incidents mostly involving tweens including reference to a crush; girl finds a boy attractive; boy pretends to have a girlfriend; characters tease others about liking each other; reference to a girlfriend in a video game; character thinks another is flirting; second-hand report of character getting pants-ed many times; references to homosexuality.

Mature Subject Matter:

Characters destroying property; cheating; young character pretending to be an adult and playing online games with an adult stranger; sexism; white supremacy; racism; homosexuality and homophobia. 

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I love being able to help busy parents who just don’t have the time to pre-screen all their children’s books and know how much I appreciate it as my sons have gotten older. I feel very blessed that my amazing husband makes it possible for me to be a stay-at-home mother to four amazing boys. When not reading or enjoying time with my family, I like baking, especially trying new recipes, and the occasional sewing project.