Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Guy In Real Life

Author: Steve Brezenoff
Info: Balzar + Bray, copyright 2014, 400 pages Book Club Selection

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A little bit nerdy, a little bit rock n' roll.

It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Bjork and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG.  They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never take to each other again.

But they don't.

This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other's lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn't belong in their lives.  A story of those moments when we act like people we aren't in order to figure out who we are.  A story of the roles all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friend - and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all.

~Goodreads Description

This one has been on my radar for awhile.  When it was first released it was getting rave reviews and peaked my interest.  Now it has 3.48 stars on Goodreads which isn't bad, but not quite what I expected.  As I finished the book this morning, and started writing this here blog post, I accidentally fell into the void of Goodreads comments, and thirty minutes later I'm trying to climb and put my thoughts into a coherent whole (or as coherent as I can get...let's be honest, sometimes I'm a little more chaos a little less intelligible.)

I feel like I should start with the gaming, because there is gaming in spades in this here book.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  There were acronyms.  There were PCs (personal characters).  There were special sided dice.  There were some game cards???  Still don't understand that one.  Needless to say, there was a bit of a learning curve.  Brezenoff does a decent job of including even the newbies like myself in the action, but a lot of it I just pretended to understand in the hopes that I would still find a connection with the characters.

This is an opposites attract kind of story.  Lesh is metal, Lana is hippie, and they find them streets colliding on the streets of Saint Paul.  The multi-perspective format allows you to really get to know them individually, but the switching of "I" was a little jarring at times, and I had to go back to the chapter title to remind myself of who was talking.  I liked Lesh.  He's a kid who has created a bit of a caricature of himself, the boy in black, and throughout the story he slowly realizes that he wants to be more than that, he wants to be more than what he has allowed himself to become.  I can appreciate that, especially for a teen.

Lana I'm not as crazy about.  She seems extremely angsty, but not in a loner way.  A nerdy angst just didn't sit right some of the time.  She's kind of mean to her parents, which luckily gets smoothed over by her adorable sister Henny, doesn't really seem to have a great relationship with her friends, and is overly obsessed with her task wheel that lets her family know what she's doing up in her room.  I don't know.  I just never got attached to her despite her awesomely embroidered skirts and Dungeon Master skills.

All that being said, it was refreshing to get a contemporary teen romance from a male author's perspective.  The dialogue never felt rushed or trendy, and despite their flaws, the characters came off real and genuinely teens learning to be human.

Not a great read, but a good read, and definitely one you should check out.

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