Guy in Real Life - Steve Brezenoff

This is a fun a fascinating examination of life, love, living online, and (to a smaller degree) LARPing. The alternating chapters give readers a chance to catch a glimpse of each character, including the MMORPG characters. Being able to experience the online world in such great depth, as something more than just a description from our characters In Real Life, sets this book apart from many that explore gaming and living dual lives. Similar in tone (at times) to that brilliant web series The Guild, this novel will enamour readers with the thrills and pitfalls of living multiple lives.

The writing style, as I said before, is skillfully split so that each character is able to express his/her/their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences, but readers are still left wondering about different aspects of the story, unlike with an omniscient, third person narrator. Each voice is unique and gives insight into living in different class, gender, and social systems. For example, the lovely Svetlana notes, in her own narrative,
We haven't talked about my car. There's a very good reason for this, and I'm not proud of it, because I realize this is exactly the kind of problem that people like me--which is to say young white people of generally privileged upbringing--are typically accosted for complaining about. But I hate it. I hate my car.
Brezenoff manages to cover a number of themes and create a well-rounded world for his characters to inhabit. Even the minor characters will give readers pause and bring about an emotional connection. Reggie, for instance, has trouble with his boyfriend, and though a minor character overall, his worries and his effects on the main characters, make him an integral part of the story, not simply a "diversity character" tacked on to satiate critics.

I did question Greg's use of homophobic lingo and insults and their necessity in the overall context of the story, and felt that he faded out as a character, rather than coming to life as I'd hoped. His development, or rather lack thereof, is one of the main reasons that I felt pulled out of the narrative at times. That being said, I think the rest of the book flowed well enough to stand up straight and true!

Recommended

(Note: This review is from an Advanced Reading Copy - Out May 27, 2014)

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