Title: Playing Tyler
Author: T.L. Costa
Published: July 2nd 2013 by Strange Chemistry
Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Source: This book was provided by the Author/Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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.
I feel like the premise gives too much of the story away. Going in knowing something is up means you see most of the twists coming a mile off. Had this story been more set up like a mystery with having to discover and piece together clues along with the main characters, I would have liked it more. It might have helped to play up the thriller aspects that drew me in the first place. It fell a little flat to me, I felt that this book was trying to be more of an edgy romance than a thriller.
As for the romance? Holy mother of stalking. There’s persistent and then there’s sending your crush countless unsolicited text messages and emailing her every day for weeks. I found Tyler’s fixation with Ani more creepy than romantic.
The story also reads difficult during Tyler’s POV scenes. I get the attempt at authenticity in portraying his ADHD, but the run on sentences and lack of punctuation gave me a headache.
I did like the family drama parts of the story. Tyler comes from a very broken home indeed and the way it shapes him is fascinating to see. Brandon’s story was especially touching. Truth be told, the whole Brandon arc was the only part of the book that really captured me.
I dunno, maybe I wasn’t the right target market for this story. I didn’t hate it or anything, I just wasn’t as charmed as I’d hope to be. I wanted nail biting suspense and to be filled with conspiracy theories, not to be hit over the head with the ethics (or lack thereof) of war.