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.
Ready, Player One was one of the best books I read last year - so I was really excited about Playing Tyler. I thought it might be similar, yet different on a young adult level. I was right and I was wrong. I really struggled with the writing style throughout the story. Brandon has ADHD and the writing reflects that literally.
I felt for Brandon, having a brother, a heroin abuser, at rehab, a recently deceased dad and a mom who has just mentally broken down. I was empathetic and really was hoping that his flight simulator game and new love flame, Ani, would be the foundation that Brandon needed for a hopeful future.
Then everything twisted upon itself and Brandon and Ani are soon fighting for their lives and Brandon's brothers. At times engaging, other times confusing, with some excitement and action to liven things up, Playing Tyler was not what I expected, but did eventually come to enjoy. Some may find it a brilliant novel, and if you can get past the writing, you will probably enjoy it. However, make sure you have some time to spend with it. I'd read another novel by Costa, but I won't rush to pick it up. 3/5 Stars
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.