Deadly Pink
by Vivian Vande Velde
Harcourt, 2012

Deadly Pink is a young adult science fiction novel, a companion novel to Heir Apparent and User Unfriendly. These books are set in the near future, where the biggest scientific advancement appears to be the invention of immersive virtual reality. The VR games are very popular amongst teens, but somehow they manage to go wrong more often than you would really expect.

Grace is surprised at school by her mother -- in tears -- and her sister's boss. They explain that her sister, an up-and-coming VR programmer, has permanently and intentionally locked her mind into one of the games she was designing. If she stays in too long, her brain will start to deteriorate, and eventually she will die. They've tried turning off the game, rebooting, and sending in other programmers after her, but nothing works. They've decided that the best bet of getting her out is to send a family member in after her... and as thier parents have never played a VR game, that leaves Grace.

When Grace logs into the game, she is very surprised to find that the game is pink pink pink... and full of unicorns, princess dresses, and cheerful fairies. She is surprised that her sister was designing a game like this at all, and gobsmacked that she would choose to stay here longer than necessary... but it shortly becomes apparent that her sister is very serious about staying, and staying alone.

This is a fun book -- well, as fun as a book about a sibling attempting to commit suicide can be. And really, that is what it is about, Grace trying to understand why her sister is trying to kill herself. While trying to figure this out, and quickly, she is also trying to navigate all of the in-game blockades and puzzles that her sister has put in place to prevent 'rescue' -- but these also provide clues to her sister's motivation.

Having read Heir Apparent, Deadly Pink felt a bit derivative. I have not yet read User Unfriendly, but it also appears to have essentially the same plot. I did enjoy these books enough that I will read User Unfriendly, and would recommend that if you enjoyed either of the previous books you read this one. This also works as a stand-alone novel, and if the description sounds interesting I recommend you read it, regardless of whether you have access to the earlier books.

ISBN-10: 0544022785;
ISBN-13: 978-0544022782

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