Cover Image: Rising Star (Cross Ups, Book 3)

Rising Star (Cross Ups, Book 3)

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Member Reviews

This is another great book in the Cross-Ups series.

The kids go to New York Comic Con in this story. It was timely, since it just happened a couple of weeks ago. Comic Con is the biggest event for gaming and pop culture, so it was so cool to see Jaden and Cali living out this dream. I went to BookCon a couple of years ago, which is held at the same convention centre as Comic Con, so I could relate to that part of the story.

A great part about this series is that there are both a boy and a girl main character. Jaden narrates the story but his best female friend, Cali, plays a lead role in the story. Though video games are typically thought of as a “boy’s” activity, girls play video games too. I’m glad that girl gamers are represented in this series.

I really enjoyed this story!

Thank you Annick Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Rising Star is a story about finding confidence and being true to oneself. Jaden struggles not only with mastering the new version of Cross Ups, the game he loves, he also faces difficulties being in the spotlight when he agrees to run for student body vice president and participate in a tournament at New York Comic Con. At NYCC, he meets older players of Cross Ups who influence to act in ways that are hurtful to his friends and damaging to his integrity as a player and individual. Ultimately, he learns his lesson and regains his conscience and gains some newfound confidence.

The story would have been much more enjoyable if not for the racist microaggressions that popped up throughout the book. Notably, Jaden, who is biracial, resents having his appearance compared to that of his Asian mother and disdainfully refers to her as a "little Chinese lady." This can be read as internalized racism against his Chinese heritage. Additionally, one of the characters in the game he plays takes the form of a creature from Chinese legend called the luduan, and its first appearance is described as "weird," thus othering Chinese mythology. Finally, there is a character in the story with the first name Tanaka, one of the most common Japanese surnames, which shows a lack of research on the author's part. These issues yanked me out of the narrative and made the reading experience less smooth.
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