Saturday, November 08, 2014
Guy in Real Life, by Steve Brezenoff
Svetlana is an introvert and a creative genius. Leader and dungeon master for the school's gaming club, she spends endless time in her room planning out vividly hand-illustrated and carefully plotted adventures for the club.
When these two young people literally cross paths one night, an unlikely attachment develops. Svetlana isn't used to being noticed (aside from a sleezeball that her parents are trying to hook her up with). But it is Lesh who truly goes all out: inspired by her qualities, he creates an online avatar that represents how he sees her and he starts to play this online "Svvetlana," discovering that being a healer rather than a fighter and helping others appeals to him more. Pretending to be a girl online, however, creates complicated when you are really a G.I.R.L. (guy in real life).
A mixed bag for me. I love the originality of the story and the idea of an adolescent boy who is growing comfortable with his feminine side. I just wish that the idea had been developed further. Instead, we spend an awfully long time in the gaming world (inside the characters themselves in a pseudo-fantasy environment), which isn't terribly interesting because it's mostly narrated (apparently gamers in Minneapolis just sit back and get told what their characters are doing, rather than play them). I wasn't entirely sure what the point was?
And while I liked Lesh and felt he had some great nuances, Svetlana is neglected. You get some sense of the sexism in role-playing, but not much about why she likes it nonetheless. As a general observation, guy writers seem to have trouble giving their female characters depth -- which seems ironic in the context of this book's theme!