Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd

Don't Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd

Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd is the eSports book I never knew I needed. As a fan of any book about competition, I enjoyed reading about this one’s gaming tournament, and I learned a lot about the gaming community by the time I finished. The main characters are supportive of each other, and the side characters add even more entertainment to the story. I would definitely recommend this adorable contemporary to gamers and non-gamers alike.

Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis NeddTitle: Don't Hate the Player
Author: Alexis Nedd
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: June 15, 2021
Rating: four-half-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

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❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃

Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd

Living a secret second life as a pro gamer, Emilia is thrilled when an eSports tournament comes to her city, offering her a shot at a major prize. However, her perfect balance between her life as a popular field hockey star and her life as an elite gamer is thrown off when someone from her school competes on a rival team and recognizes her. I’ve never read a book about eSports before, so I enjoyed this concept and the knowledge I gained about the gaming community. There are many gameplay descriptions throughout, but they are never intimidating to outsiders like myself.

❀ Easy to Root for Characters

The main characters, Emilia and Jake, are both easy to root for. Emilia is a secret gamer, firstly because her strict parents would never approve, but also because she must hide her identity in real life for fear of being threatened. Through her character, we learn about the struggles of women in the gaming community, and I enjoyed the critical look at this male-dominated group. Jake, Emilia’s childhood friend, who he met through gaming, is both a competitor and a supportive friend. He is compassionate and respectful, but it never feels fake or forced. I loved his dynamic with Emilia, and their relationship brings a lot of sweetness to the story and brought a genuine smile to my face.

❀ Dynamic Side Characters

I especially enjoyed the book’s side characters, who really make the story shine. The members of Team Unity and Team Fury are given the complexity they deserve, and each has a distinct personality. Reading about Team Unity’s unwavering support for each other is so heartwarming, and the transcripts from their chat are also included. I am always a fan of dynamic side characters, and, in this one, they make the story even more entertaining.

❀ Eye-Opening and Heartwarming

Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd is both an eye-opening and heartwarming look inside the gaming community. I loved the original concept, and both main characters are likeable. The side characters also bring more entertainment to the story, resulting in an upbeat story that still touches on serious topics. I would definitely recommend this one to those looking for a story with positive representation and friendly rivalry.

About Alexis Nedd

Alexis Nedd

Alexis Nedd is a Brooklyn-based pop culture "fanthropologist" who has only ever loved things in a big, obsessive way. As the Senior Entertainment Reporter at, she covers television, movies, and video games with a focus on sci-fi and fantasy universes like Game of Thrones and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When she's not writing for money, she's writing for no money on Twitter, where her feed consists of deep dives on weird history (Hamilton and messed-up royal lineages are favorites) and analyzing pop culture as an artifact of society. Her writing has also appeared in Elle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and BuzzFeed. This is her debut novel.

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About The Candid Cover

Olivia ❀ YA book blogger, Starbucks lover, novice New Yorker, & professional bibliophile.

21 thoughts on “Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd

  1. anovelglimpse says:

    The title makes me think of my late teens/early 20s when everyone said, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” I’m so old… But I love the blurb and you’ve made it sound so good. I think I want to read it, but I need to get myself in the mood to read YA books. That’s been hard for me this year.

  2. megan allen says:

    This sounds very interesting! Different from what I normally read but seems really good! Thanks for the rec!

  3. Nova S says:

    oh i love video games!! not too into esports but i’m sure i would still enjoy this read, and learn something too

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