Last Gamer Standing

by Katie Zhao (Author)

Last Gamer Standing
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Ready Player One meets the action of battle royale video games in this middle-grade sci-fi perfect for fans of Fortnite.

In twelve-year-old Reyna Cheng's world, gaming is everything. Professional esports teams are the mainstream celebrities. Kids begin training from a young age, aspiring for the big leagues. Reyna is the up-and-coming junior amateur Dayhold gamer, competing in a VR battle royale against AI monsters and human players. But despite Reyna's rising popularity and skills, no one knows who she is. Gaming is still a boys' club and to protect herself against trolls and their harassment, she games the mysterious TheRuiNar.

When Reyna qualifies for the Dayhold Junior Tournament, she knows she's got what it takes to win the championship title and the $10,000 prize. It's a chance to make a step forward towards her professional esports dreams and to help her family with the costs of her mother's hospital bills. But when she's blackmailed and threatened to be doxed by an anonymous troll, Reyna has to confront the toxic gaming community head-on.

With her dreams and the cash prize on the line, it's game on!

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
" Emotional depth and nuanced representation level up this action-packed, futuristic page-turner."

Publishers Weekly

A virtual reality game that draws inspiration from various Asian cultures, Dayhold is a global phenomenon, with its own academy dedicated to training the next generation of players. Currently attending its 2067 summer camp session on a full scholarship, Chinese American 12-year-old Reyna Cheng is a rising superstar, poised to excel in the Junior Dayhold Tournament, whose prize is $10,000. But no one knows of her success--to fit into the male-dominated scene and avoid racist and sexist bullying, Reyna keeps her identity as TheRuiNar a strict secret. Having promised her parents, who are coping with her mother's breast cancer, to give up her dream of becoming a pro gamer if she doesn't win, Reyna is determined to show everyone that she has what it takes to be a Dayhold champion--until an opponent who knows her identity threatens to dox her unless she withdraws. Combining ruthless online rivalry and real-life dilemmas, Zhao (How We Fall Apart) pushes her inspirational heroine to the limit in the pursuit of success, validation, and financial security. An insular-feeling first-person narration underlines how Reyna's intense focus in the high-pressure environment can leave her feeling isolated. Ages 8-12. Agent: Penny Moore, Aevitas Creative Management. (Sept.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A fantastic and relevant addition to children's literature, in a world where e-sports is just as popular as traditional sports, younger readers and gamers everywhere will love this gem of a book. — The Quiet Pond

Katie Zhao
Katie Zhao is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she earned a BA in English and political science in 2017 and a master of accounting degree in 2018. She is the author of the Dragon Warrior series, How We Fall Apart, Last Gamer Standing, and the Winnie Zeng series. She's a passionate advocate for diverse representation in literature and media.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2021

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