Review: Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd

Don't Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd

Don’t Hate the Player
Alexis Nedd
Bloomsbury YA
Published June 15, 2021

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About Don’t Hate the Player

By day, Emilia is a field hockey star with a popular boyfriend and a mother obsessed with her academic future. But by night, she’s kicking virtual ass as the only female member of a highly competitive eSports team. Emilia has mastered the art of keeping her two worlds thriving, which hinges on them staying completely separate.

When a major eSports tournament comes to her city, Emilia is determined to prove herself to the male-dominated gaming community. But her perfectly balanced life is thrown for a loop when a member of a rival team—Jake—recognizes her . . .

From an exciting new talent, this sweet and charming YA romance will win the hearts of gamers and non-gamers alike.

Don't Hate the Player on Goodreads

My Review

Okay, to start with, the voice in this book is simply fantastic. The dialogue is funny and nerdy and I absolutely loved it. It was a super entertaining read.

DON’T HATE THE PLAYER follows two points of view: Jake’s and Emilia’s. Emilia’s chapters are all in first person, and Jake’s are a combination of third person narrative or chat logs from online conversations with his teammates. I liked that format a lot. The only time it felt a little strange to me was in the prologue, because it’s kind of recapping something that happened in the past between Jake and Emilia. Once I realized that all of Jake’s narrative sections were going to be written that way, I think it made more sense, but it was maybe just not what I expected from the opening? Like I said, once I got into the book, that opening made a lot more sense.

I liked a lot of the characters. They were each so unique that I could tell who was talking, and I loved that. I also loved the way their relationships with Emilia changed through the story. There’s a scene toward the end with her parents that I just LOVED.

One of the things I noticed is that I don’t think there are any good white girls in this book. It’s possible that I only noticed this because I read DON’T HATE THE PLAYER right after reading HANI AND ISHU’S GUIDE TO FAKE DATING and I noticed this same thing in that book, too.

That’s not a criticism. I think books are allowed to have zero good white girls. It was just a thing I noticed and wanted to sit with, you know? To think about what it’s like to read and enjoy a book that doesn’t include/feature a positive representation of myself. I think that’s a good thing to think about. I tried to think about how I’d feel about books if the only girls who looked like me acted like mean girl bullies. (Which is not the case for white characters by any stretch of the imagination, of course.) Anyway, it gave me some time to think about how critical good representation is when there aren’t a huge ton of stories featuring a particular community.

Another thing that I felt like this book did really well was to dive into some of the conversations about gaming behavior, specifically predatory and cruel behavior toward girls and female-presenting players. It doesn’t get deep in the gross stuff, but the story does not shy away from what it’s like to be a girl gamer. Additionally, I loved the way DON’T HATE THE PLAYER showcased the different relationship dynamics between players on team Unity and players on team Fury.

All in all, this book has a LOT to love. Reader who enjoy witty banter and rich characters will definitely want to give this one a read.

Don't Hate the Player on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Emilia is Puerto Rican. Her best friend is Black. One minor character is transgender and a couple more are gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used with moderate frequency.

Romance/Sexual Content – Trigger warning for sexual bullying.
Kissing between boy and girl. Emilia recalls receiving unwanted sexual pictures in her messages. She also received messages saying people wanted to rape her.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
See above for bullying content. Most of the violence described in the book is video game violence. Emilia and Jake each play on a team of five who battle each other, trying to guard treasure and kill the opponent’s players using weapons and magic attacks.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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