Sometimes I feel like I have to read a guy book just to be fair to my male students, and I usually drag my feet because they are just not my thing. In Real Life by Lawrence Tabak was no exception to this process, and I can’t believe I almost let this one slip past me! This book completely drew me in. Engaging character, interesting situations, and a narrative voice that reads as genuine teen guy. I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to get a copy in my classroom library. The author actually commented on my Goodreads review and said he wrote this for his son, a gamer guy, because he had a hard time finding engaging books. Well, he did his son a solid with this book! If you enjoyed The Silence of Six or Ready Player One, this is definitely a book to add to your TBR list.
In Real Life Lawrence Tabak
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Tuttle Publishing
Fifteen-year-old math prodigy Seth Gordon knows exactly what he wants to do with his life—play video games. Every spare minute is devoted to honing his skills at Starfare, the world’s most popular computer game. His goal: South Korea, where the top pros are rich and famous. But the best players train all day, while Seth has school and a job and divorced parents who agree on only one thing: “Get off that damn computer.” Plus there’s a new distraction named Hannah, an aspiring photographer who actually seems to understand his obsession.
While Seth mopes about his tournament results and mixed signals from Hannah, Team Anaconda, one of the leading Korean pro squads, sees something special. Before he knows it, it’s goodbye Kansas, goodbye Hannah, and hello to the strange new world of Korea. But the reality is more complicated than the fantasy, as he faces cultural shock, disgruntled teammates, and giant pots of sour-smelling kimchi.
What happens next surprises Seth. Slowly, he comes to make new friends, and discovers what might be a breakthrough, mathematical solution to the challenges of Starcraft. Delving deeper into the formulas takes him in an unexpected direction, one that might just give him a new focus—and reunite him with Hannah.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. I am so glad I got a chance to read this! Don’t ignore this book because it is about gaming — it was easy to follow and even interesting to read about in this context. Don’t ignore this book because there is a male protagonist — this character is appealing to both male and female readers. Seth reads as a genuine teen, and there is a depth to his growth that is very engaging. This is a Bildungsroman, so the real goal in this book is to see the character grow and mature as a human. While there is some action in this story, there is a lot of thinking, too, so don’t expect the book to read like a video game. I gave this book five stars, not because I thought it was perfect, because it wasn’t, but it had soul and depth to it, something that is often found in ya books with female protagonists, but more elusive in ya books with male protagonists. The topic will draw high school boys to the book, and I think they will stick with it because it is genuinely good. Language and light sensuality are appropriate for ages 13+. Interest level is high school and beyond. I added it to my classroom library wish list and I have already recommended it to our school librarian.