Deadly Pink: The Dangers of Virtual Reality

Deadly Pink is written by Vivian Vande Velde. It was published in 2012 by Harcourt. It is a companion to Heir Apparent (which I reviewed here). Vande Velde’s website can be found here.


“Grace Pizzelli is the average sister. She’s nothing like her brilliant older sister, Emily, who works for Rasmussem, creators of the world’s best virtual reality games. They seem so real that you can taste the food and smell the flowers.

The games aren’t real, though—or at least they weren’t. Now that Emily has hidden herself inside one, it’s clear that the technology can’t keep her safe for long. Something must have gone terribly wrong for Emily to retreat into the pink and sparkly Land of the Golden Butterflies, but no one seems to know what.

Grace may consider herself average, but she’s the only one who can save Emily. So Grace enters the game, hoping to find her sister and talk her out of virtual suicide. There isn’t much time left before sustained exposure to the technology will have dire results. Unless Grace can find her sister soon, Emily will die—for real.”

~Inside Flap

What I Liked:

I liked Heir Apparent so much that I had to read another book set in the same universe. And despite the fact that it’s the same exact concept (girl goes into virtual-reality game, something goes wrong, girl must escape), it’s delivered differently, which makes it seem like a brand-new adventure.

Grace had such sarcastic humor; I loved her. Her obsession over the number-counting was hilarious and her thoughts all throughout the book were wonderful comic relief.

I said about Heir Apparent that there was a danger about portraying virtual reality the way Vande Velde did. In this book, I think Vande Velde really underscored the danger that she sort of ignored in the previous book. If you stay too long in fantasy, it will kill you. If you go into fantasy to escape reality, as Emily did, it will kill you. If you rely on fantasy to fix the problems of reality, things will not go well.

I liked the realistic ending, and how everything didn’t turn up all sunshine and roses and happy (the ending was happy, don’t get me wrong, but it showed the consequences of Emily’s actions realistically). Actually, I think the ending really just gave a great contrast to the virtual reality world of pixies and flowers and unicorns and how things don’t work that way in reality—and yet reality is so much better.


Cover Art

What I Didn’t Like:

Things were a little too obvious in regards to Emily, but I guess it was supposed to be that way. The minute they started talking about how popular Emily was and how she always came back every weekend, I knew that Emily was having trouble in college. The only thing I didn’t know was why, but I just chalked it up to college being completely different from high school. So, I guess the score part of Emily’s troubles was not so obvious.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: Mentions of attempted suicide.

Genre: Realistic, Fantasy, Young Adult


We came to another pot, this one holding hollyhocks. I thought I was doing a good job with hiding how impatient I was getting, but maybe not, because she said, “You can save us some time.” She pointed the way we’d been walking. “Around that corner—” it was a right-hand turn—“then take the second left, and there’s a vase holding a gerbera daisy. If you can get that for me while I pick these, then we can go back and drink some lemonade on the porch and discuss things.”

“Okay,” I said.

It only worked as far as “take the second left.” There was no vase.

And when I retraced my steps to the pot of hollyhocks—which were all still there, by the way—there was no Emily, either.

~Vande Velde 46-47

“So…?” I asked. His booth consisted of the wheel and the counter to separate us from the wheel. There were no numbers on the counter, so we weren’t betting on what would come up, and there were no shelves with prizes—neither exorbitant nor conventional. Had I just won eighty-seven pieces of our gold back? But he hadn’t given any coins to the gypsy girl or the pig man when he’d spun for them. “What do I win?”

The king and the gypsies exchanged a bemused look over that. ‘You won an eighty-seven,” the king said.

Before I could say, “Wow! That IS EXCITING!” I became aware that Emily was standing directly behind me.

~Vande Velde 207

Overall Review:

Deadly Pink is another wonderful look inside the world of (scary and dangerous) virtual reality fantasy games. This book really underscored the danger of fantasy and virtual reality in a way that was lacking in Heir Apparent, and showed how too much fantasy (more like, expecting fantasy to fix your problems) can be dangerous. I had a few issues with the pacing and I thought Emily’s arc was resolved too fast, but overall, a wonderful book.

You can buy this book here: Deadly Pink

Coming Up Next: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente

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