Book Review: 8-Bit Christmas by Kevin Jakubowski

So this is a first~ My younger brother has written his first ever book review. I think he’s a far better writer than I am so I hope you enjoy reading this one.

Click on the image to open the book's Goodreads page

Click on the image to open the book’s Goodreads page

Title: 8-Bit Christmas
Author: Kevin Jakubowski
Publication date: November 1, 2013
Publisher: DB Press Press
Series: N/A
Acquisition: Netgalley

It’s 1980-something and all nine-year-old Jake Doyle wants for Christmas is a Nintendo Entertainment System. No Jose Conseco rookie card, no GI Joe hovercraft, no Teddy friggin’ Ruxpin–just Nintendo. But when a hyperactive Shih Tzu is accidentally crushed to death by a forty-two-inch television set and every parent in town blames Nintendo, it’s up to Jake to take matters into his own hands. The result is a Christmas quest of Super Mario Bros. proportions, filled with flaming wreaths, speeding minivans, lost retainers, fake Santas, hot teachers, snotty sisters, “Super Bowl Shuffles” and one very naked Cabbage Patch Kid. Told from a nostalgic adult perspective, 8-Bit Christmas is a hilarious and heartfelt look back at the kid pop culture of the 1980s.


Hearing the title had my mind set for an adventurous tale about some of the classic games like Super Mario or at least one that pays homage to them. While it did not exactly meet my expectations, it was an interesting story nonetheless. The book focused more on the player experience rather than the games themselves like I had expected. This however made it much more relatable to gamers especially to those who played through the gaming “classics.” The title also promised that classic feel of a Christmas based story. It did deliver. However in my opinion Christmas served more as a setting throughout the book and the focus only truly showed near the end.

8-bit Christmas is about the arrival of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in Batavia, Illinois in the 1980’s. It describes the impact of the NES on the lives of the locals. The book focuses on the winter of nine-year-old Jake Doyle and his obsession with the NES which led to his eventual pursuit of the coveted Nintendo.

One thing I liked about the book was the fact that it just felt like a classic. The author seemed to have made an effort in portraying a typical setting. There was the grumpy dad, the bratty conniving little sister, the huge bully and many more the likes of which resided in those old movies and such. The book also shared a view into the 80’s version of the stigma on video games some of us know so well. I did appreciate the overall character of the protagonist, Jake. Jake embodies a certain sense of relatability for guys, but what I liked the most though was his personality. I personally enjoyed the snarky aspect of his personality. While I am unsure if the author has based the character on himself, the character talks as he was telling the story from his past. This results in an interesting and entertaining mixture of personalities wherein Jake comes off as either a childish man or a mature child.


I found 8-bit Christmas enjoyable. I would recommend it, but mainly to those who could relate to a young gamer. While the plot doesn’t require such a relation it does sweeten the deal so to speak. Naturally this book would be a lot more spellbinding when read during Christmas season. Overall I give this book 3.5 stars because while it is an interesting book, it lacks a certain uniqueness other than the focus on video games and the writing is not especially good – its more along the lines of listening to an entertaining friend than a great literary work.




Kyle is Francine’s 17-year-old baby brother. He might secretly resent being called that. He is currently a high school student, and has been excelling in his classes. He has won inter-school writing competitions. He loves playing video games and watching anime during his free time. Occasionally, he reads.
He always sidetracks Francine’s reading and blogging time with The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth computer game. Thus, he is helping out with reading and reviewing as payment.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: 8-Bit Christmas by Kevin Jakubowski

  1. Ohhhh I’m finally ‘meeting’ your brother. Baby brother. I feel so young now. I’m 17 as well 😛 (then again, almost, VERY ALMOST 18). This book looks super interesting. I’m not sure if I will enjoy this one though, because I’m not really familiar with gaming systems generally. *not such a nerd after all*

    • Hahaha! Well, he’ll always be my baby brother whether he be 17 or 25 or 50. XD I only played a lot of video games when I was younger. Now, there are so many that I probably wouldn’t know much about them anymore. 😛

  2. Hi, Francine’s brother!

    This book sounds like a funny read, so I’m totally going to keep my eyes out for it. I might end up getting all nostalgic and having urges to play video games that I played as a kid, haha!

  3. Pingback: Musings: Recommending Books to Occasional Readers

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