Available from: Amazon.com

Note from the author, George Giese, regarding the book’s proceeds: “20% of my author’s share goes to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Hopefully all gamers have a chance to enjoy games as much as I do.”

I’ve got an awful lot of respect for George Giese. He’s managed to write, fund and publish a dream project with The Video Game Adventures of Monte McGnarly; something that many writers – myself included – aspire to.

The Video Game Adventures of Monte McGnarly is a kids book, inspired by the writer’s favourite childhood video games. Written entirely in rhyming couplets, each chapter features a game inspired by classics such as Super Mario Bros, Star Fox and The Legend of Zelda. The story sees the eponymous Monte McGnarly being magically transported into the worlds of one video game after another; it’s a cute conceit and the passion for the games featured is clear to see in the text. Though inspired by specific games, the stories themselves don’t take place in exact carbon copies of the source material; unique elements and even features from later games in each series do crop up within the tales.

The rhyming did get tiresome for me, unfortunately. I would have preferred to have had simple stories with a more traditional structure, but I’m willing to admit that this is personal preference, rather than a weakness in the form of the book. One thing I do have to point out, however, is that the rhyming doesn’t always work and there’s the occasional issue with the rhythm not quite scanning properly – but this was an ambitious project and it’s frankly amazing that I could pick out so few lines where this was the case, in a text that keeps to a rhyming structure throughout.

Not only that, but I’m hardly the target audience for this book. It’s for parents to read to their kids at bedtime; the rhythm of the stories, repeated motifs and the kid-safe peril being perfect for this. With the games that inspired the stories being ones that parents would have played, have fond memories of and been familiar with when they were younger, it’s a great way of introducing children to classic games and franchises that they may have heard of but not yet played themselves.

There’s a few odd choices for the stories, with one based on WCW vs NWO on N64 and another on NBA Jam; though very popular, these are far from the near-universal gaming legends that Super Mario Bros or Zelda are, for example. This being a very personal project and the featured stories being generally applicable to any wrestling or sports game does at least make these inclusions more understandable, however. Not only that, but the story begins with the title character being gifted a box of random video games at a garage sale – so it makes sense within the confines of the fiction that there’d be a random assortment of titles included (Monte seems to have done well with the box of games, in fact – given how many legendary titles he’s given!).

If you do have young children and you’d like to bond with them over games without extending their screen time (especially at bedtime, when they should be winding down!), The Video Game Adventures of Monte McGnarly is a great way of doing so. It’s a shame that there are no illustrations, which would have really helped bring the text to life – but I understand the blood, sweat and tears it took to get the book published even without adding images – and it’s nonetheless great to see it the book in print. I fully admire the passion, spirit and determination that’s gone into bringing it to fruition. I look forward to seeing what’s next from George Giese, especially as this book is tantalisingly subtitled Volume One: Old Video Games. Could volume two be on the horizon? I hope so.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this – or any of my other content – it’d be much appreciated if you’re able to share this article via social media. I’d also be forever grateful if you’re able to support me via: Ko-Fi.com/geekmid or PayPal – all of my work is provided for free and I earn no income from the blog, so any donations are gratefully received and assist me in keeping my writing dream alive. Above all else though, thanks for reading – I truly appreciate it!

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