Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

Rachel L tells us about a book for all the gamers (and not-quite-gamers):

Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

My brother played a lot of RPGs (that’s role-playing games to you noobs) when we were growing up. I’d like to say that I teased him for being a total computer geek like a good sister should, but that’d be lying. If I were being honest (which I am, always, as all of you should be), I’d tell you that I used to pull up a chair, sometimes with a bag of microwave popcorn, and watch him play like it was a movie. I also wasn’t the only one. My brother’s friends--jocks and student government officers, mostly--would come over just to watch him play too. He’d have a little audience of fantasy video game viewers peering over his shoulder, holding our breaths during boss battles, eyes widening at what we thought were amazing graphics for the video sequences, and even tearing up a little as the dramas unfolded (okay, maybe that was just me).

So I know secondhand the power and draw of games like Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda and other RPGs. (Am I dating myself too much here?) When I heard about Guy in Real Life, I just had to get my hands on it, and it didn’t disappoint.

Lesh is a Goth kid whose best friend is really into online multi-player RPGs. Lesh himself is more into the metal rock scene, but when he gets himself grounded, Greg convinces him to spend his extra time gaming. Meanwhile, as school comes back into session, Lesh befriends a stunning and eccentric girl named Svetlana, who happens to be an avid tabletop role-playing gamer. As Lesh becomes more entranced with Svetlana, he creates a secret online RPG character named Svvetlana, and begins to lose himself in this alternate world he’s become a part of through her. As Lesh and Svetlana grow closer, he has to find a way to sort out what is real and what is just a fantasy.

I loved so many things about this book, but especially the friendship that develops between Lesh and Svetlana. Their relationship felt so true to me that I was almost certain that I knew a Lesh and Svetlana in my own high school years. The other characters, while at times crass and perhaps a little ugly, were natural and real to me as well. Told from Lesh, Svetlana, and Svvetlana’s perspectives, Guy in Real Life will have you wondering who these characters really are--and maybe even finding yourself blurring the lines between reality and fantasy too.​

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