book review: guy in real life, steve brezenoff

18599748 book review: guy in real life, steve brezenoffTitle: Guy in Real Life
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Category: Young Adult, Fiction
Publisher: May 27, 2014; Balzer & Bray
Starred Review: 3 stars

I’m not really a gamer. Sure, I get obsessive over The Sims and SimCity, and I play Mario Kart and LEGO Batman on the Wii, and yes I went through a major Pirates of the Caribbean online (may it rest in peace) phase, but that last is probably the closest I’ve ever got to online MMORPG gaming. I’ve never played World of Warcraft or LARPed or played D&D or anything. So, you ask, why did I decide to read Guy in Real Life, which is a YA book all about gaming (both live and video)?

Guy in Real Life is the story of high school sophomore Lesh, who gets drawn into the world of online gaming by his best friend when he ends up grounded for getting drunk, and it’s also the story of Svetlana, a high school senior who runs the tabletop Gaming Club at her school. They cross paths the night Lesh is drunk, and he remembers her as this goddess on earth. In fact, he remembers her so drunken-vividly, that he creates an elf in his online game modeled after her. The thing is, this means he’s playing a girl in an online game, but he’s actually a guy.

I have mixed feelings about the book. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the writing, the pace, the easy conversation, and many of the characters. I didn’t get all of it because of the whole not being a gamer thing. I also think that there were too many things going on, too many quirks, I think. Lesh is a metal boy (think long black trench coat, jet black hair, headphones on all the time, never crack a smile) before he starts gaming. Lana is Luna Lovegood-esque with handsewn skulls on her flowy skirts who doesn’t fit in with her soccer-obsessed family and does everything she can to avoid doing anything with any of them. At one point she’s described as a “hippy-girl” which for a tabletop gamer didn’t make any sense to me. Honestly, I had a better picture of Lesh in my mind than I ever had of Lana. There was just a lot going on in addition to the main plot, which I would describe as boy meets girl, boy is obsessed with girl, boy and girl sort of become friends and involved … maybe?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed reading the book. There was never a time when I thought I was going to put it down. I wanted to read it. I wanted to get to the end. I wanted to know what happened to Lesh and Lana and especially with Lesh’s lady elf in his online game. But what did happen, at the climax of the book, was very fast and slightly convoluted and, unfortunately for me, rather unsatisfactory. Also, for a book that’s labeled as a romance, that was pretty lacking, too.

I guess I expected the book to be different or more or something.

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