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.
I enjoyed Ani as a character - her storyline was what intrigued me most about Playing Tyler, and I wish it had been featured more throughout the book. The emphasis was really on Tyler and his relationships with his family, in addition to his brother's drug addiction. Ani is smart as a whip - smart heroines rock!
The stakes in Playing Tyler are astronomically high. Playing Tyler is a slow build type of novel - around the three-quarters mark, things suddenly speed up and from there it is a sprint to the finish line or the end. The last quarter of the book was brilliant - I wish the rest had matched up in terms of pace and plot.
One of Playing Tyler's strengths is the villain - the villain is both well written and exceedingly clever. Every twist that is thrown at Ani and Tyler was very well planned.
I was sad when the book ended, since the last quarter of the book so much had happened. I was hoping there would be a little more closure to Ani and Tyler's story. By the story's end, I really enjoyed the growth both Ani and Tyler had made as characters, but particularly Ani. She is such a strong character and doesn't exactly realize it until the end.
I would be curious to read more from TL Costa in the future, since while I found Playing Tyler to have its faults, there were still a number of strengths. Fans of thrillers, who don't mind a slow build, will devour this one.
Ani is one of the best gamers in the world and she was the one who designed the drone program. Tyler and Ani have an instant connection and they start dating even though it's against the rules. Ani soon starts noticing some strange activities within the program and shares the news with Tyler. Together they try to get out of the mess they help build. But how can you fight a secret organization?
What I liked about Playing Tyler is the main character, Tyler. Since he's not good at school he works hard with the program. He needs to convince himself he is more than other people think he is. He is a fighter and I can't help but root for him to do well. Tyler and Ani were so sweet int he beginning of their relationship. Who hasn't had an awkward faze when they start seeing someone?
I would recommend this book to guys or people interested in the world of gamers and aviatics.