Title: Playing Tyler
Author: T. L. Costa
Release Date: 4th July 2013
Who’s it for? Teens, mid to older teens.
What’s it about? When is a game not a game?
Tyler MacCandless can’t focus, even when he takes his medication. He can’t focus on school, on his future, on a book, on much of anything other than taking care of his older brother, Brandon, who’s in rehab for heroin abuse… again.
Tyler’s dad is dead and his mom has mentally checked out. The only person he can really count on is his Civilian Air Patrol Mentor, Rick. The one thing in life it seems he doesn’t suck at is playing video games, and, well, that’s probably not going to get him into college.
Just when it seems like his future is on a collision course with a life sentence at McDonald’s, Rick asks him to test a video game. If his score’s high enough, it could earn him a place in flight school and win him the future he was certain that he could never have. And when he falls in love with the game’s designer, the legendary gamer Ani, Tyler thinks his life might finally be turning around.
That is, until Brandon goes MIA from rehab and Tyler and Ani discover that the game is more than it seems. Now Tyler will have to figure out what’s really going on in time to save his brother… and prevent his own future from going down in flames.
What’s good about it? The character voices is this are close to perfect. Tyler’s voice is beautifully done and so very different to Ani’s. In fact, the segments from Tyler’s perspective actually had me reading faster – it’s so well done and his ADHD comes across without needing to continuously mention it every five seconds. Seriously, it’s a great example of show not tell.
Tyler is a great character though and his relationship with Ani is, quite frankly, adorable. I loved how it was shown from both sides, with both of them thinking of how much of an idiot they must look. The way they worked together was so sweet, even when everything was falling apart.
Ani’s not mentioned much in the blurb, but she does have an enormous role to play in the story – not just as the love interest. I really, really liked that she was the one to design the game, and I also liked how it showed that not all the players were happy with her skills as a designer and a gamer – it can be really difficult to be a female gamer and I thought it was great that that wasn’t glossed over. Her relationship with her father too, and her staunch support of him was brilliant; her whole family are fleshed out. It’s the details of her life and her family that make her so much more than just another love interest.
The pacing’s great in this but I think that’s helped a lot by Tyler’s voice – the pacing automatically quickens just because of the nature of who he is.
Tyler’s relationship with his brother hurts. Hurts like fire.
What’s bad about it? It’s pretty obvious what the flight sim is. The ending is a little abrupt but it’s understandable why.
The verdict? I received this as a ebook ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. So I won’t lie.
This is an awesome read. The characters are fantastic, the pacing is good, the character development is good. There were sections that made me smile, a couple that had me crying and a few that were just adorable. Alright, the flight sim is obvious, but I didn’t really care, because the rest of it was so enjoyable.
Plus the cover is gorgeous. I mean really, that is some nice cover art.