by Gillian Rubinstein
Series: Space Demons 2
Reviewed date: 2018 Jun 24
183 pages
cover art

Skymaze is the sequel to Space Demons, and it's very much the same. The kids play a mysterious computer game from Japan. The game has a malevolent intelligence of its own, and it draws the kids inside the game itself, creating a high-stakes game where their lives hang in the balance. All this happens amidst the turmoil of the kids' real lives, so the story is really about the emotional roller coaster of young teenagers in a chaotic world, where adults' decisions upend their lives and the kids have no control and precious little influence.

In Space Demons, the game fed on hate. In Skymaze, the game feeds on their fear. And there is plenty of it. Andrew's parents are now divorced, his mother has remarried, and Andrew now dreads every interaction with his stepfather Keith and stepbrother Paul. Elaine is living with the Fields's while her dad works a contract job in Papua New Guinea, and she's desperately afraid they won't let her pursue her dream of dancing in Shaz Christie's show. (Aside: should I know who Shaz Christie is?) Ben is afraid of his older brother Darren, who bullies him mercilessly. And Mario, well, his family life is still awful and he's afraid he's unloved, unlovable, and worthless.

As before, Andrew is the reckless idiot who plays the new game--Skymaze--and gets everyone involved in the deadly game. The others play a little, but try to avoid getting involved. But Skymaze throws Mario off a high building, and he ends up in the hospital in a coma. The game reveals that unless the kids solve the Skymaze and win the game, Mario will never wake up.

They do defeat the game, although it takes working together and facing their fears--fears that the Skymaze amplifies and heightens. When they win, Mario wakes up in the hospital, surrounding by his loving family.

Skymaze is a good book, but I did have to edit out a lot of swearing while I was reading it to my eight-year-old son.

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