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"T L Costa brings the intrigue of Tom Clancy, technical wizardry of Dan Brown, and the heartthrob of Stephanie Meyer to life in a voice that is entirely her own, one that speaks for the new generation of teenage survivors."
- Christopher S. Nelson
"Costa updates War Games for the 21st century, asking teens to consider the ethics of private contractors, drone warfare, and collateral damage."
Posted July 2, 2013
With a fast pace and a sweet romance, I couldn't put it down.
It's a wonderful book and perfect for inspiring the discussion of so many topics relevant to teens:
ADHD, video games, drones, drug abuse, families affected by tragic life events... the list goes on.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 17, 2013
You have ADHD. You can't sit through class. Your always fidgeting, always wanting to move.
Don't like the pills for the pills always give you a weird feeling. So what do you do to pass the time of day?
As someone who has little ADD, games always seem to calm me down. I don't know what it is,
but I relax when I'm playing any kind of game...mostly Call of Duty. I think mostly because my brain
thinks so fast on things, and I'm always fidgety myself, being able to do ten things at once calms my mind.
And that's Tyler MacCandless. A teenager who feels the love of every game for it keeps his mind active,
and will try any kind of game.
Especially a game that is invented for the Air Force, and a game created by his huge time crush.
And this is his one chance to get into Flying School he will do anything to get there. Even play a boring game.
Or is it JUST a game?
Follow Tyler and Ani through a whole new gaming world, fighting the Air Force, everything they believe in
even family, deception and their attraction!!
Posted October 15, 2013
T.L Costa writes with bare realism that will appeal to teens, as well offering them cleverly veiled lessons in growing up. Filled with heart and action, Costa deftly brings us into the minds and lives of Tyler and Ani, naïve nerds who are the country’s top gamers. Drawn in by the sweet-talking Rick with lucrative offers to work for his company, they trade their skill for money, and college. Neither teen has the support of a caring family--save a druggie brother—and, each carry the burden of the task alone. In discovering each other and comparing notes the two teens learn they have been pawns in a web of deceit and horrendous crime. Tyler and Ani must choose between playing on, or risking their lives. As a mature adult, the story kept me up at night wondering how these kids were going to survive. Every teen needs to read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 10, 2013
Part thriller, part geek fest, and part sweet romance, PLAYING TYLER was the must read of the summer for me.
The main characters, Tyler McCandless and Ani Bagdorian captured my heart from the start in this fast paced teen drama. Although on the surface, this book was about the slippery slope of Drone warfare and one boy’s journey to discovering who his real friends are, it was mostly about teens trying to find their place in the world. At seventeen, Tyler must face family relationships that are filled with tragedy and struggle, and the wonders/horrors of first love. TL Costa rocked the male teen voice and I was totally swept up in her stream-of-consciousness narrative style that put me squarely in Tyler’s ADHD brain. I found myself bouncing my knee right alongside him and anxious to see how he would negotiate the twists and turns that life tossed his way. Since the chapters were alternating points of view, I waited to see if any of Tyler’s dialogue would spill over into Ani, or vice versa, but each character was well-drawn and unique. A debut author to watch!
Highly recommend for older teens, especially boys who aren’t typically readers. I think this one will grab them! Great job, TL!
Posted August 3, 2013
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings
A video game that isn't as it seems, a pair of teens who may or may not fall in love and a lot of drama - this book went to places that I couldn't have even predicted, but I definitely enjoyed it. With both a young man and woman as narrators of this story, I loved seeing the story through both of their view points, it made the book feel complete.
Posted July 29, 2013
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened PLAYING TYLER by T L Costa. The vibrant elements of the cover alone were enough to make me stop and devour the details with dark intrigue.
And I was taken after the first paragraph, my life consigned to Tyler and Ani for the next fourteen hours. I could not put it down.
The voice of protagonist Tyler MacCandless is rendered in perfect ADHD, so much to the point that I found myself reading faster and pedaling my own foot with each moment spent with him. Tyler is the perfect teen hero, complete with foul mouth yet strong moral compass, the selfless pariah navigating through a collapsing world of selfish adults. And every moment is a whirlwind of screaming, random thoughts he must overcome just to get through a day.
Ani Bagdorian, the second voice of PLAYING TYLER, is just as conflicted, a sixteen-year old prodigy feeling her way through a similarly outcast life of being too young for her peer group at Yale University, too girl for her boy-dominated world as a champion gamer/ programmer, and suddenly dealing with the most complicated first romance she could possibly imagine. One that puts her on a jeopardy-scale that starts with academic stability but quickly slides to a threat far worse.
Without going into spoiler detail, PLAYING TYLER takes on very real issues that have come to the forefront in modern society thanks to multiple wars and unmanned war-fighting technology, as well as the demons of drug abuse and family disconnection. The themes of selfless service and staying true to oneself despite the odds drive the continually intensifying plot. Connecticut’s teenage setting comes to life thanks to inclusion of actual pop culture icons: anime interests, real video games, and movies. Finally, the teen dialogue is fresh and believable, as are the idiosyncrasies of military radio communications/ COIN Theater tactics, and a certain technical lean on programming expertise that seals the plausibility of PLAYING TYLER, sure to raise many a young hacker to an accord of head nods and Mountain Dew salutes.
T L Costa brings the intrigue of Tom Clancy, technical wizardry of Dan Brown, and the heartthrob of Stephanie Meyer to life in a voice that is entirely her own, one that speaks for the new generation of teenage survivors. A must read for YA and adult audiences alike, PLAYING TYLER is a story that will stay with you for a very long time.
Posted July 19, 2013
I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. Tyler MacCandless has ADHD, even at the best of times he has trouble focusing. He doesn’t have anyone he can count on except his mentor, Rick. Ani is a gaming genius. Not only does she play, she also creates them. She gets hired to create a flight simulation program to train future pilots. This is how she meets Beta Tester Tyler. This is most likely Tyler’s last chance at getting into flight school, so he gives it his all. This is when his troubles really begin.
Playing Tyler came across as a modern day war games. I loved the way how realistic the relationship between Tyler and Ani were. This book was a suspenseful mystery, one I enjoyed thoroughly. I also loved how they discussed the morality and ethics of what was really going on. Playing Tyler is a brilliantly written first novel, and I look forward to more from this author!
Posted July 9, 2013
Tyler is a high school drop out who has sever ADD. Even with medication he cannot focus. The only time he focus' is when he is gaming. When Rick asks him to test the new sim program for him he can't resist. If he gets a high enough score Rick has promised him a place in flight school. As Tyler plays this game he realizes that there may be more to this game than he originally was told.
Ani is the game maker... The programmer. She is also the ultimate gamer. When Tyler and Ani meet sparks fly but both are awkward and unsure of each other. As they both learn more about the game Ani developed they are both worried that it is not being used as it was meant to be and this puts their lives in danger.
I am not a gamer. Not even close to being a gamer unless playing Candy Crush counts. Some of the terms and conversations in Playing Tyler was lost on me. I was able to follow the story but I'm sure I missed some important clues.
That being said I loved the awkward romance between Tyler and Ani. The fact that Tyler idolized her before her even met her and then tried to impress her even more when he did meet her was the sign of true young love. What really won me was that Ani like him for just being him and for what they had in common. Their relationship hit some hard spots and they managed to work through it, not throwing in the towel and giving up. This relationship became much more then just young love. It became a true love. Where both parties would and did put their lives on the line to save the other.
I liked the idea of this story. I loved the romance. Gamer or not you will enjoy this book. If you are like me and not a gamer just over look some of the chapters that you don't understand. There is a lot more that I did understand and loved.
Posted July 6, 2013
Playing Tyler is a YA thriller that pulls NO punches. Costa’s respect for teens is apparent from the get-go. Nothing is sugar-coated. A super pet peeve of mine in YA is when an author tones things down a little for their audience, and in turn, makes the story and characters unbelievable. There is none of that here. Neither is the opposite–making things so abysmal that reading the book makes you want to kill yourself. Instead, we have a believable, yet rough, family situation from which evolves a very likable character–Tyler. Tyler has ADHD, and Costa has captured the inner workings of his mind perfectly. As someone with ADHD myself, I recognized myself in him immediately, in a positive way. Tyler’s thought processes, the things that attract his attention, the things that drive him insane–all of these things are very accurate. The character voices (alternating between Tyler and Ani) drew me in right away and didn’t let go.
The subject matter of this novel is very relevant to our times, but never does it come across as preachy, “this is right, this is wrong.” I think that’s one of the things I liked best about it–it’s a story about young adults who find themselves in a very sticky situation, where there is most definitely a gray moral ground. The storyline is much like Ender’s Game, but right here, right now. This is something that is relevant to people in today’s world, dealing with issues (namely drones, and also prescription drug abuse, whistle blowing…) that are in the spotlight now.
There is, to be honest, something for everyone in this book. Guy, girl, young, er…not so young. Lots of tension here; I could easily have read it in one sitting, had my pesky life not gotten in the way. Action, romance, family, growing up, social and political issues. And gaming. What more could you ask for?
Posted July 5, 2013
This novel has realistic characters and a topics that are certain to appeal to teenagers! I think it would be a great platform for discussions or a great summer read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2013
ADHD does not equal stupid, but that message has not yet spread to Tyler’s world…especially with the multiple learning challenges heaped on him. Classmates don’t understand his exaggerated need to move, teachers misinterpret his behaviors, the principal seems uncertain if he wants Tyler on or off drugs, and any remote possibility of staying focused is demolished with his need to care for his mom and Brandon. If it weren’t for Rick, his Civil Air Patrol mentor, Tyler would have no one he could lean on, no hope. Flying is Tyler’s absolute dream career. An appointment to the Air Force Academy might not have been out of question, except that finishing high school is. Rick has the kind of connections that can still make Tyler’s dreams possible through back doors. Amazing! Tyler’s honed skill on a flight simulation/gaming platform can be his ticket to a future career in flight. Playing the game, he can beta test the program and equipment leading to greater skill and efficiency in military drone operations. Great opportunity!
Whatever happens, Tyler is bent on staying near Brandon, his brother. He should have noticed before when Brandon was on a downward spiral with heroine. Brandon’s addiction has torn apart the family, well, what’s left of it, that is. Brandon, his hero. The one who looked out for him, stood up to bullies for him, and went to extremes to read and coach him through every required reading, essay or report to overcome his many learning challenges. Brandon, who lost a promising internet radio/journalism career, unable to broadcast from rehab. Once Brandon makes it safely out of rehab, Tyler will never again let him slip into oblivion, never again fail his hero.
The author weaves magic by altering voice between Tyler and Ani, aka SlayerGrrl, the three-time International League Gaming champion and designer of the new gaming platform. An ivy-league opportunity fell into Ani’s lap as a welcome escape from family dysfunction, with a capital PTSD, and her own possible jail-bird status, but fear ghoulishly continues to peer over her shoulder. Why should she have to choose between getting to know the hottest gamer and a fabulous job and Yale education.
Brandon worries, almost incoherently, about the company behind the game. Surely it’s just the heroine talking. Both Tyler’s and Ani’s futures depend on the game’s success and on Rick. But what if there is a sinister agenda? Would the two become guilty of murder? Of treason?
Incorporating gaming and programming, Blackhawk helicopters and drones, terrorists and heroes, and military posts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, this book is sure to entice readers of all genres. Offering a little bit of everything to tantalize everyone, this is sure to attract a YA following and, I hope, a demand for sequels.