Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Playing Tyler by TL Costa Review

Playing Tyler
Playing Tyler by TL Costa
Available Now
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Received a finished copy from publicist for review
Paperback 304 pages
To Buy Links-

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.


Characters- Tyler- I LOVED Tyler!! He has ADHD and his parts are written with run on sentences and with incomplete thoughts so that every time I read his thoughts I read them really fast like his brain was working. I liked the way TL Costa wrote his thoughts because it gives some insight into the way a person with ADHD thinks, how their brain functions. It's so different than what you imagine it to be. I have two sons with the disorder and I've never really understood how it felt. But reading Tyler's mind, I get it! But Tyler's personality is so great! He loves his brother who is in rehab. He worries about his mom who works too much. And he is immediately infatuated with Ani also known as SlayerGrrl. He's absolutely adorable with how his mind works when he thinks about Ani.

Ani/SlayerGrrl-Ani is a really young girl (16) at Yale who is a fish out of water. Though she's among other smart people, she sticks out being so young. She can't get into any of the under 21 clubs because you have to 18 so she's pretty isolated. She doesn't make friends easily. She is a master gamer, having even made her own online game that people loved and played including Tyler. But being an online gamer is a lonely life, being a winner and breaking records is even lonelier. Ani is likable and very easy to relate to if you've ever felt like a fish out of water. 

The world- This is a contemporary so it's set in the real world but there is so world building with the gaming aspects of the novel. Honestly, I didn't care what the system looked like so I kind of skimmed that part but it is explained in detail if you know enough to picture what it looks like. I know X-Box and Wii. That's it.

The story- Tyler's family has suffered the loss of the dad/husband in a tragic way and Tyler's brother never quite recovered. He's in rehab and not doing well. Tyler has a lot of worries, his brother, his mom, school but one thing he doesn't have to worry about is his mentor Rick or as Ani knows him Mr. Anderson. They both know him so differently, Tyler knows him as a caring adult who is giving him a shot with a new video game and possibly a shot at aviation school. Tyler's dream is to fly. But Ani knows him as Mr. Anderson, her employer and the man that pays her way through Yale. A strict, no nonsense business man who had her design the video game that Tyler is testing and he has an even stricter policy of no contact between Ani and the gamers.

My thoughts- I was hooked from the first page. I love a guy's point of view, but reading Tyler's point of view was just amazing. My 13 yr old told me that was exactly how his mind worked, an alarming thing to know since he's medicated for his ADHD. Tyler's mind is like a whirling dervish and it makes for fascinating reading. Here's a little snippet from when Tyler first meets Ani/SlayerGirrl:
Dammit!  That was so not suave. Tell her you know who she is. That you've always wanted to meet her, a girl who games to game, not to impress a boyfriend or because it sounds like something fun to do when stoned. A girl who  designed a game so badass that supposedly people have actually died while playing it because they didn't want to walk away from the console. Quick. Now, Ty, witty, clever. "Your nose doesn't look so big in real life." Shit. Her eyes widen in surprise. Her cheeks turn bright red. Like neon red. Shit! "I mean, your profile picture is just awful."p.28
The story alternates between Tyler's point of view and Ani's. You won't have any trouble identifying which is which. Ani reads totally like the fish out of water that she is. She is totally overwhelmed. Yale, her responsibilites with the game, Mr. Anderson and Tyler. 

I absolutely loved this novel. I'm a character girl for the seven hundredth time and these characters totally stole the story for me. I fell for Tyler right away and then Ani snuck in there and their story was addictive. I read it in one sitting. And my 13 yr old read it in two. I highly recommend this one for anyone that enjoys contemporary thrillers and romances. The characters do have some issues, but it only presents characters with issues. It isn't really an issue book at all so don't be turned off by that.


  1. Ooo wonderful Heather!!!!! I saw the book and it sounded great, but then I'm not sure why I stayed away from it! I love these unusual characters you describe and now I want to get to know them!

    1. Danny, you'll love this one! Tyler is such a sweetie!

  2. Tyler sounds great, I think that I would like him too

  3. I was so tempted to get this one and I didn't just because I am so booked. Now I am sorry. It sounds so different and I think I would like Tyler's voice. I will have to try and get it read sometime. Thanks for sharing, Heather!

    1. Oh Heidi I think you'd enjoy it if you get some time!

  4. That was a cute scene, when they first met.

    1. It's very funny with Tyler pursuing her and her trying to follow the rules. He's very persistent.

  5. I love that the ADHD parts read real. So much misinformation and misdiagnosis out there I don't think people really grasp what it is like. I worked with kids like this. Just that makes me curious and I do know someone who would really enjoy this book!

    1. It's so interesting to read from his perspective. I think he also has a learning disorder that isn't diagnosed. He's really smart but is hampered by incompetence in the school system.

  6. I'm a character girl, too! I love that your son responded to it like that!!!! I love that you read with your kids in general!


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