Book Spotlight: Slacker and Level 13

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Posted: March 20, 2020

Category: Staff Picks

Book cover - a beaver holding a video game controller, surrounded by junk foodCam Boxer is a near-professional slacker. Other than playing video games, where he is frequently defeated by a player named Evil McKillPeople, Cam gives the minimum possible effort in everything else.

One day his mom asks him to take supper out of the oven in ten minutes, but Cam is distracted by his game. A half-hour later, smoke coming from the oven causes a neighbour to call the fire department. When the fire fighters arrive, they chop through the front door.

As a result of the damage, Cam’s parents require him to find an activity to participate in. If he doesn’t, they will take away his video game console.

With the help of his friends, Cam creates a school webpage for a fake organization called the Positive Action Group (PAG). The page lists Cam as president and has a broken contact page. Cam is convinced that the webpage will solve everything – it will show his parents he is involved, but will not take any of his time.

However, a classmate obsessed with a wild beaver in the community stumbles onto the PAG page and visits Cam’s house to join. Then the school guidance counsellor latches onto the group and signs them up for their first initiative: helping senior citizens with a garden project.

Cam sneaks away from the garden to play a game on his phone when he sees water flowing from underneath a door. He calls for help and when the door is opened, realizes the woman living in the apartment filled her sink to wash dishes but slipped, banged her head, and became unconscious.

The news of Cam’s rescue spreads and more kids than ever join PAG.

Will Cam ever escape the grasp of PAG? Will he ever recover his free gaming time? Can he ever find a way to defeat Evil McKillPeople?

Slacker by Gordon Korman is shelved upstairs, in the juvenile everyday life section of the Children’s Department.

Level 13 starts sometime later.

Cam is still famous around the school for his role in PAG, but all he wants to do is stream his gaming online. Two things work against Cam: his lack of audience, and PAG’s continued demands on his time.

By mistake, Cam includes Elvis the beaver on the camera while streaming, and the beaver attracts viewers to Cam’s steam. His audience grows further when he starts streaming an obscure version of a game with a rumoured hidden level.

To make more time for streaming, Cam starts a rumour that he is failing his classes and cannot participate in PAG. The rumour takes on a life of its own, and soon Cam is inundated with notes and projects from classmates who don’t want him to give up PAG.

Will Cam’s trick give him enough time away from PAG to stream? Will he be able to keep Elvis on stream without his parents finding out?

Level 13 by Gordon Korman is also shelved upstairs in the juvenile everyday life section of the Children’s Department.

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