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Crusader by Edward Bloor

Crusader (edition 2001)

by Edward Bloor

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292638,453 (3.52)6
Authors:Edward Bloor
Info:Scholastic Paperbacks (2001), Paperback, 608 pages
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Crusader by Edward Bloor


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I really enjoyed another of Bloor's books, Tangerine, a bunch of years ago, and since I have been on a kick reading books that took place during the Medieval Age, I gave this book a chance.

Roberta's father and uncle run a franchise video game store in an older, run down mall. The video games are like a precursor of today's Wii. The user lowers a helmet with a video screen over their head and wave a wand around that causes characters in the video to be killed. Sounds cool but the business is suffering and they are falling behind in their rent and payments to the franchise company.

One of the disturbing things about the story is how they would put up "Out of Order" signs on the games if they expected visits from members of whatever race was the target of the games. For instance, when they were expecting a tour bus full of Japanese to visit the mall, they put the sign up on the Viet Nam War game.

"I spotted a Japanese family. They were wandering my way, right toward Mekong Massacre. This was why Karl had hit the buzzer. We don't let any Asian customers have the Mekong massacre experience. We don't let Asians have the halls of Montezuma experience or the Genghis Khan Rides! experience, either. Undle Frank calls this our Asian Policy. Some Asians take these games so seriously that they get emotionally upset. Then they want their money back. We're instructed to tell all Asians that those three games are 'experiencing technical difficulties.'"

Later in the book, her father was hosting after-hour parties with goons. They had different programs that heightened the effect that they were slaughtering more of the targeted racial group they desired. This whole setup made my skin crawl.

Roberta is friends with an elderly lady who runs the Hallmark store whose parents were victims of the Holocaust. She shares her experiences which really opens Roberta's eyes. She tells her the story of the Krystallnacht (the name of one of the games, wouldn't you know) and how her father was so devastated he killed himself.

There was way too much going on in this book. There is a televangelist in the mix as well as a politician and a police detective still investigating Roberta's mother's murder after 7 years. It's two or more books thrown into a blender.

One interesting aspect of the book is the look at Florida mall culture. I never really thought about how all the store workers and owners relate to each other. This mall has a trailer outside that keeps the mall's garbage frozen until it can be picked up. Whether this still is common or not, it was interesting.

I struggled to finish this book. And, by the way, it had a totally improbable ending that was hard to swallow. ( )
  mamzel | Feb 10, 2011 |
Its O.K but a little weird and it has alot of deaths ( )
  Mrs.Williams | Jan 28, 2010 |
Reviewed by Marta Morrison for TeensReadToo.com

A Crusader is someone who supports a certain cause and a Crusader is also a knight in the 11th-13th centuries who fought to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. Both of these definitions come into play in this long but wonderful mystery.

Roberta Ritter is a shy and lonely girl. She is plain but only because she doesn't really care how she looks. Roberta's father owns, along with his brother, a virtual reality arcade in a failing mall in Florida. The family used to have an arcade on the strip, but due to the murder of her mother they sold that franchise and opened this one.

Roberta doesn't really have a relationship with her father. He is away a lot and so Roberta and her family act as the store owners at the mall where the arcade is located. At the opening of the story, the arcade is getting a new experience in the form of a Crusader. When violence happens at the mall and an Arab is attacked, Roberta becomes a Crusader to foil whoever is doing this and also decides to find out, along the way, who murdered her mother.

This book is long, 591 pages, but excellent! The characterization of the major players was spot on. I felt like I know Roberta and she is one of my good friends. I really cared about what was going on with every character and the storyline was interesting. It wove in politics and the driving force of the media. There was dysfunction everywhere but there was also true love and caring. I recommend this book wholeheartedly! ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 10, 2009 |
Crusader by Edward Bloor was a really deep book. It contained many mysteries that somehow all ended up connecting with Roberta. Reading about Roberta was brilliant. You can tell she is really intelligent and brave, although weird. Roberta is let down again and again and lives in the sort of environment I wouldn't want to live in. Roberta was smart yet ignorant, because nobody was there to teach her the things a 15 year old girl ought to know. Her life was filled with tragedies, but at last she discovered a true reason to live on. All in all, this is a good read and wonderful story.
  jessica02px2014 | Feb 15, 2009 |
Seen through the eyes of a somewhat apathetic, somewhat socially disconnected teenager, this interesting story takes place almost entirely within a failing mall and a graveyard. Over the course of about five hundred pages Bloor explores numerous ethical issues while managing to keep the plot realistic and entertaining. The characters are also believable and dynamic.
Though the book is somewhat predictable in places, and sometimes a little too hyperbolic or soap-opera-like, it is still very well done. ( )
  opinion8dsngr | Apr 25, 2008 |
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I don't usually look in mirrors because I don't need to.
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Book description
Find the Truth

Roberta Ritter looks plain and shy, but her life isn't as boring as people think. There's a dark and deadly secret in Roberta's past: her mother was murdered years ago, and the identity of the killer is still unknown.

Roberta spends her afternoons working in a failing arcade in a failing mall, where the only action comes from a violent game called Crusader. When a burst of hate crimes suddenly explodes at the mall, Roberta resolves to find out not only the cause of the crimes, but also the truth behind her mother's death.

In a world where nothing is what it first appears to be, Roberta will have to be her own hero...and unravel the mystery of her own past.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0439221609, Paperback)

A steamy, swampy Florida setting and the threat of a repressed memory are two of the elements in Edward Bloor's first young adult novel, Tangerine, that made it an instant suburban gothic classic. His follow-up, Crusader, delves even deeper into the dark side of suburbia, exposing racism, virtual violence, and even murder behind the sunny facade of a Florida strip mall.

Fifteen-year-old Roberta works hard every afternoon and weekend in the family business, a virtual reality arcade in the West End Mall. She keeps her mind off the fact that the arcade is slowly going under and that her father ignores her existence, but she cannot ignore the fact of her mother's brutal murder seven years ago. Roberta's quest to find her mother's killer weaves together several skillfully constructed subplots, including a shady political scheme to ruin the mall, real and imagined hate crimes against an Arab store owner, and how the Crusader itself, a virtual reality game, serves as the catalyst that ignites and unites these seemingly unrelated factors in Roberta's life. Bloor's brooding, densely plotted page turner is an incredibly original novel that will engage teens on several levels. Though it is almost 400 pages long, the nonstop action and many startling revelations will keep teens transfixed until the very last sentence. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:17 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

After a violent virtual-reality game arrives at the mall arcade where she works, fifteen-year-old Roberta finds the courage to search out the person who murdered her mother.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.52)
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