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Game World


Launching Akashic’s new Black Sheep YA imprint, an adventure novel in a video game turned reality, with giant spiders, malevolent hummingbirds, a not-quite-yellow-brick road, and preteen children learning how to be heroes!

$19.95 $14.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“The Narnia for the Social Media Generation.”
The Wall Street Journal

“By the time of Farley’s Game World, gaming had gone digital, and while his book is more fantasy-adventure than puzzle-mystery, there are parallels worthy of discussion, from the nature of the games to the depictions of disabled.”
Booklist, included in “Conversation Starters: Recontextualizing the Classics”

“Drawn from both video gaming culture and the rich tapestry of Jamaican myth and folklore, blending pointed social satire and mystical philosophy, this exuberant, original hero’s journey is a real trip . . . Exhilarating, thought-provoking and one of a kind.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Adult author/Wall Street Journal editor Farley’s middle-grade debut draws from Jamaican mythology and beliefs, as well as from other cultures, to weave a fast-paced, whimsical mixture of magic and action . . . the setting lends itself well to memorable imagery and a fun experience.”
Publishers Weekly

“Farley blends video gaming and Jamaican folklore in this intense, fast-paced middle-grade fantasy that is sure to quickly grab readers.”

“Here (finally!) is a middle-grade action novel that showcases West Indian mythology and features protagonists of color.”
School Library Journal

Game World is unique in that its fantasy world, as its name suggests, is built upon characters and stories from actual Jamaican folklore.”
Philadelphia Review of Books

One of “This Spring’s Hottest Teen Books”
Huffington Post (via Kirkus)

“It was amazing to read about a disabled character who regularly surprises and aids the protagonist with just his skill set and mind. I am so used to reading similar adventure stories with secondary disabled characters who only feature for a few chapters before dying or disappearing, so it was great to be introduced to Eli, who appears almost constantly throughout the book . . . In addition, [Game World is] a captivating read with a fast-paced and intriguing plot. You won’t want to put it down. I wholeheartedly recommend it.”
Disability in KidLit

“I found it very hard to set down this excellent novel and do something else without thinking about it. . . . I highly recommend his book to fans of fantasy. Because you will love it!!”
Middle Shelf (reviewed by Teak, age 13)

“Farley writes in a straightforward way that is both accessible to younger readers but still interesting to adults.”
Persephone Magazine

“In his metaphorical world, Farley spares neither the dubious machinations of high finance nor the heartbreak of an orphan.”
Center for Fiction

“I highly recommend Game World for kids in 4th – 12th grade. Parents can read it too and love the characters and story just as much as the kids.”
The Family Coach

Game World is more of a good old-fashioned fantasy adventure than I expected — and I loved it for that. You don’t have to be an expert gamer to enjoy this book.

“A mixture of fantasy, reality, Jamaican folklore, and history. A great read for all, we love it! My kids and I can relate to the themes and characters in this wonderful adventure. Finally! Thank you, C.J. Farley!”
—Ziggy Marley

“Fast-paced, fun, and exciting, Game World kept me—and more importantly my twelve-year-old son—turning the pages. It’s a unique, refreshing breath of Caribbean-accented fantastical storytelling.”
—David Anthony Durham, author of the Acacia Trilogy

“If William Gibson wrote The Hunger Games, it might feel something like this. Cyberpunk for a new generation of readers!”
—Kazu Kibuishi, author of the best-selling Amulet series and Harry Potter cover artist

“There are real children here, who blunder, quarrel, pop blisters, get pissed, suffer bullying, and fart—things almost guaranteed to freak out parents, teachers, librarians, and children’s book reviewers. There are mysteries and challenges galore. In sum, there’s some adult-level mind stretching here.”
—Piers Anthony, author of the Xanth series

“Want a thrill? Ride a longboard down a water slide or plunge into Game World. The rush will be the same.”
Colin Channer, author of The Girl with the Golden Shoes


Interest level: 4–up | Grade level: 6 | Lexile Level: 710L | Guided Reading Level/F&P: W

Part of Akashic’s Black Sheep YA imprint.

Dylan Rudee’s life is an epic fail. He’s bullied at school and the aunt who has raised him since he was orphaned as a child just lost her job and their apartment. Dylan’s one chance to help his family is the only thing he’s good at: video games. The multibillion-dollar company Mee Corp. has announced a televised tournament to find the Game-Changers: the forty-four kids who are the best in the world at playing Xamaica, a role-playing fantasy game that’s sweeping the planet. If Dylan can win the top prize, he just might be able to change his life.

It turns out that Dylan is the greatest gamer anyone has ever seen, and his skills unlock a real-life fantasy world inside the game. Now actual monsters are trying to kill him, and he is swept up into an adventure along with his too-tall genius sister Emma, his hacker best friend Eli, and Ines Mee, the privileged daughter of Mee Corp.’s mysterious CEO and chief inventor. Along the way they encounter Nestuh, a giant spider who can spin a story but not a web; Baron Zonip, a hummingbird king who rules a wildly wealthy treetop kingdom; and an enchantress named Nanni who, with her shadow army, may be bent on conquering Xamaica and stealing its magic.

In order to save his sister and his friends, Dylan must solve a dangerous mystery in three days and uncover secrets about Xamaica, his family, and himself. But will he discover his hidden powers before two worlds—Xamaica and Earth—are completely destroyed?

Click here to go to the Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog to read C.J. Farley’s post about Kate DiCamillo’s appointment as the national ambassador for young people’s literature; here to read Farley’s post about four ways video games could help kids love books; here to read Farley’s post about Dr. Seuss and the three secrets to telling a bedtime story; and here to read C.J. Farley’s post about the need for increased diversity in children’s literature.

Click here to read a piece by C.J. Farley on the need for diversity in children’s fantasy at The Root.

Read features on the African American Children’s Book Fair and C.J. Farley at the Philadelphia City Paper and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Read a feature on Game World at the Philadelphia Tribune.

Click here to listen to an interview with C.J. Farley at the Reading & Writing Podcast.

Watch C.J. Farley’s appearance on NBC’s The Today Show, where he and Jessica Lahey discuss segregating children’s books by gender:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Watch a video interview with C.J. Farley below, in which the Wall Street Journal calls Game World “The Narnia for the Social Media Generation”:


Listen to an interview with C.J. Farley on the Tavis Smiley Radio Show, where he discusses the need for increased diversity in children’s literature.

Listen to an interview with C.J. Farley at BlogTalkRadio’s “Saturday Mornings with Joy Keys”:

Check Out Current Events Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Joy Keys on BlogTalkRadio

Listen to an excerpt from Game World:


C.J. Farley participated in the New York Writers Coalition Writing Aloud Reading Series. Check out photos from the event below (click to enlarge):

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Book Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Published: 2/4/14
  • IBSN: 9781617751974
  • e-IBSN: 9781617752063
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • IBSN: 9781617753053


C.J. FARLEY was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and lives in New Rochelle, NY. A graduate of Harvard University, Farley is the author of the acclaimed fantasy adventure novel Game World and the best-selling biography Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, which was adapted into a hit Lifetime movie. Farley’s young adult novel Around Harvard Square won an NAACP Image Award and was named a 2020 Honor Book by the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. His latest novel is Zero O’Clock.

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