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Title: Playing Tyler
Author: T.L. Costa
Year Published: 2013
Synopsis: 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, thats 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.
Review: Oh my goodness, you guys. This book was absolutely beautiful. And not in the "oh what a pretty fantasy world full of magic and mythical creatures and kingdoms full of amazing royalty!" No, this book was beautiful in the way it portrays its imperfect heroes and puts you directly into their heads as they struggle through their extraordinary situations.
It's just crazy how well Costa is able to make this seem like it could actually happen. The whole time I was reading, I felt like everything this book was completely realistic and could be right now. Tyler and Ani are far from perfect and have such broken homes that they could serve as really good role models for kids with even one of their problems - ADD, parents who have died or checked out, siblings who are increasingly distant, etc. And through everything, they grow and persevere. Major props.
At first, the story seemed to be moving kind of slowly. But then Tyler and Ani start to figure things out, and the plot takes off. I was so nervous for them, and them relieved, and then nervous all over again. Costa will keep you on the edge of your seat with all of the crazy twists and turns. I even had migrates after finishing this book that some of the things were actually real and happening right now.
Although this is not my typical of book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think anyone looking for relatable characters and a plausible contemporary story would really enjoy this book. I don't want to give too much away though, so you should go pick up a copy ASAP! An unexpected 5/5 for this book.