I'm trying to recall the title of a young adult-targeted book. It was probably published by Scholastic, or at least sold through their take-home pamphlets, which means it was probably published before I started high school in 1996. It's about a group of teenagers who receive invitations to play a game at an invitation-only arcade. When they go there, they are put in an immersive VR game in which they must learn to survive on an alien planet. I believe the game ends and they wake up back in the real world after they fall asleep on the alien one. They are invited back the the game a couple times, and then it turns out…

…they go to play the game again, but they are unable to exit it. Eventually they realize that they actually are on an alien planet now, and that the previous game-playing sessions were just training for the real thing. I believe the epilogue states that all of the players have coupled up and the females have become pregnant, and they are optimistic about populating the new planet.

I think it was told in the first-person perspective of a female player. I don't think there was a real protagonist or strong conflict; just the group of players learning how to survive in the game. One of the other players had a photographic memory and used it to map the planet's surface. I think the cover art featured of a girl wearing a VR headset over her eyes, with her hair being blown back and her mouth open in surprise.

1 Answer 1


I believe you're thinking of Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes. It's about a group of recently graduated students who live in a dystopian world and gain purpose in their lives by playing The Game.

The plot matches what you describe. Here's a review with a cover matching your description.


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