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Literature: Heir Apparent

Heir Apparent is a 2002 young adult fiction novel by Vivian Vande Velde. Seventh-grader Giannine Bellisario receives a gift certificate to Rasmussem Gaming Center, an arcade that specializes in virtual reality, from her estranged father. Upon her arrival, she chooses the game Heir Apparent, where she is the illegitimate child to King Cynric, the ruler of the kingdom of Shelby. Unfortunately, an anti-fantasy Christian organization breaks into the gaming center and severely damages the gaming equipment, trapping Giannine inside. The only way Giannine can get out is to win the game before 'overload' occurs.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Action Survivor: Giannine.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: How Giannine wins the game. It's programmed so if the player/players start crying or showing signs of hating the game, at least one game character will go OOC and tell the player what they need to do to win the game.
  • Author Avatar: Within the book, Kenric is based on the head of the Rasmussen corporation.
  • Culture Police: The mob that attacks the arcade is like a chaotic version of this.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Being hooked up to VR for too long can fry your brain. Normally there are fail-safes, but the protesters smashed them up.
  • Cyberspace
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus
  • Draco in Leather Pants: In-universe example with Kenric, who, despite his appearance, ends up being the most helpful brother. The company owner even says that picking him is almost always a bad choice.
  • Dragon Hoard: The protagonist needs to sneak into a dragon's lair to steal its treasure.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Giannine, as Janine of St. Jehan, just can't seem to get on anybody's good side, no matter how hard she tries.
  • Dumb Muscle: Abas, the second oldest of the queen's sons.
  • Failsafe Failure: What traps her in the game. In the designers defense, the failsafes only failed due to an angry mob of overzealous moral guardians smashing the device to hell and back.
  • Fail O'Suckyname: Nigel Rasmussem. He even says that it's his motivation for starting the company to make a name for himself.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Justified, because Janie has to start over every time she dies
  • Heroic Bastard: The protagonist of the game.
  • Holodeck Malfunction: Done by outside forces, causing the game to malfunction and begin to cook Giannine's brain.
  • Knight Templar: The angry Christian mob that destroyed the device. Subverted in that later on a real-life character says the group destroyed any chance of their being taken seriously once they nearly killed Giannine by accidentally destroying the fail safes in their rampage of destruction.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Wulfgar. You'll soon see why.
    • The most muscular of the princes is named Abas
  • Moral Guardians: That turn into Knight Templar Straw Hypocrites when they break into the gaming center and smash up the equipment, endangering Giannine's life. Sister Mary Ursula also has very strong anti-magic views, despite almost nothing bad ever coming of them.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Part of the reason Giannine chooses to play Heir Apparent is because she found the male characters attractive.
  • Nausea Fuel: In-universe, the strength potion that Janine takes while climbing Mount Hag. It's described as licking toothpaste out of the (undoubtedly hairy) armpit of a sweaty construction worker.
  • Nintendo Hard: Janine has one hell of a time trying to get through Day 1 of the game. Partly because most people would probably wait to say goodbye to their father, but Janine had issues with her real-life dad, so...
  • No Ending: As soon as the player is crowned king of Shelby, the world "dissolves into a shower of glitter" and the player wakes up - after three days of perceived time minimum that the player had to put into it.
  • Rich Bitch: The royal family, but Queen Andreanna is the most notorious for this trope.
  • Reality Subtext: In-universe example; the reason it takes Janine forever to figure out that she has to wait to say goodbye to her father to get a useful item is because Giannine is estranged from her father.
  • Save Scumming
  • She Is the King
  • Split Personality: Sorta. Giannine becomes Janine, complete with Fake Memories designed by the gaming center.
  • Straw Hypocrite: The Citizens To Protect Our Children kick off the main plot by breaking into the Rasmussen center and smashing up the equipment, endangering Giannine in the process.
  • Take That: The entire book is a giant Take That at Moral Guardians who think fantasy is going to corrupt our innocent children.
  • Think of the Children!: the aforementioned parent-groups rallying cry. Yeah....
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: Computer-operated buses, full-immersion virtual reality games...
  • Warrior Poet: What was Saint Bruce, again?
  • Win to Exit
  • Wolf Man: Wulfgar in wolf form.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: The game is full of these.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Abas, whose dialogue almost completely consists of him bragging about his various martial achievements and would seem the obvious choice to fight the dragon, doesn't "do" dragons, forcing Janine to find a way to take it on herself.


Have Space Suit Will TravelYoung Adult LiteratureHeist Society
Heaven's HellLiterature of the 2000sThe Heir Chronicles

alternative title(s): Heir Apparent
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