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Book review: 'The Lazarus Game' takes readers on a dangerous adventure in cyberspace
"The Lazarus Game" is by Stephen J. Valentine. - photo by Mike Whitmer
"THE LAZARUS GAME," by Stephen J. Valentine, Sweetwater Books, $19.99, 320 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)

Carter Chance is the smartest teenager in Merewether, and he knows it. So with his enormous brain, he is determined to find a way to impress Sidney Locke, the cutest girl in school, and convince her to go out with him. What he didn't anticipate was the Russian mob, which would foil his finely tuned plan to catch the men who injured Sidneys dad, or the true nature of the newly opened video game store that has the whole community in an uproar.

In his recent young adult novel, "The Lazarus Game," Stephen J. Valentine takes readers into the world of computer gaming through the eyes and experiences of a young genius. Carter loves challenges, and the Lazarus Game Shop has its fair share to offer. But even better, the proprietor, Geoffrey Chaucer, has invited him to work as a consultant for the shop with the promise of unlimited wealth and everything he ever wanted including Sidney. Its too much to turn down, so he becomes one of Geoffrey's geniuses.

Eventually, Carter starts to see that all is not as pleasant as his boss would have him believe. People are disappearing from town, and others are suffering physical and mental ailments that seem to be connected to playing the game. And as Carter investigates the circumstances, he realizes there is much more to this "game" than he had imagined. Somehow, those who become involved in playing the "Lazarus Game" are losing their souls.

Written from the viewpoint of a genius teen, The Lazarus Game is filled with action, intrigue and deception with a little romance on the side. Carter is brilliant but seemingly unaware of how obnoxious he can be to others. His friends Darek and Chambers and his brother Clinton are constantly drawn into his machinations against their will, but they provide protection when things get sideways. And the lovely Sidney is patient with the would-be boyfriend without actually acknowledging that status.

"The Lazarus Game" has mild violence and lots of teen-centered humor that avoids any risqu or inappropriate comments or swearing. Stephen J. Valentine is a senior program manager at FamilySearch.