Playing Tyler by TL Costa.

17262812Paperback, 304 pages

Published July 2nd 2013 by Strange Chemistry

Tyler MacCandless is a senior with ADHD – he never takes his medication anymore and can’t focus on school stuff very well. He wants to fly in the air force, and is pretty good at all that math stuff. In his spare time, he’s a pretty heavy gamer.

His older brother Brandon is a junkie in rehab, and Tyler’s mum tries not to think about that too much, leaving Tyler with the responsibility of caring. Their role reversals are kind of switched, Tyler and Brandon, making it seem like Tyler is the older, protective brother. He can’t imagine being somewhere that Brandon isn’t, because he worries so much about who would care about B if he ever left.

Rick is Tyler’s mentor. They’ve known each other for years. One day he asks Tyler to test a new video game – a drone flight simulator. If he’s good at it, it could make all his dreams come true. But soon enough, it becomes clear that there is something not quite right about the game – it’s a little too real. When Brandon goes missing and one of his old friends contacts Tyler, it all gets even more ominous.

Meanwhile, Ana – the teenage gamer girl who designed the game – and Tyler have a cute, burgeoning romance, which just happens to be forbidden because of Ana’s contract with Rick’s company – she isn’t supposed to contact any of the simulator gamers ever again after she’s set up the game for them.

Soon, Ana and Tyler are both in a lot of danger …

When is a game not a game?

I didn’t find Playing Tyler earth shatteringly amazing, but I did really like it. I found it so easy to get into because of Tyler’s ADHD and the way that his perspective is written. Because he finds it hard to concentrate, the writing is kind of jumpy, without a lot of punctuation. I know that some people would find this annoying or hard to read, but I actually loved it. I think that it helped me form a bond with Tyler that much faster.

Ana is really likeable too. She’s a sixteen year old gamer whiz kid who designed a really popular video game before she designed the simulator. Rick helped her get into Yale really early and she’s employed by his company to help pay for tuition. She’s a bit of an outcast with other students, and like Tyler, hasn’t had much romantic experience. Part of the novel is from Ana’s perspective, but it’s mostly Tyler’s. Anyway, their relationship is really sweet. 

I guess you would call this a gamer thriller. Like I say, it’s not earth shattering, but it’s definitely a good read. Give it a go if you like technology/gamer/thriller type books.

I’ve been checking out these Strange Chemistry books and they all seem really cool and quite inexpensive. They’ve only been around since 2012, I think. Here’s the website.

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