In Real Life

In Real Life

by Lawrence Tabak

Hardcover(Hardcover with Jacket)

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Overview

In Real Life by Lawrence Tabak

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804844789
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Publication date: 11/11/2014
Edition description: Hardcover with Jacket
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Lawrence Tabak started off with Candy Land but before long hit the harder stuff (Pong, Tron, etc.). His first job was playing knock hockey with ten-year-olds as a playground supervisor. He later tried pizza assembly and door-to-door solicitation before settling into a series of jobs in Iowa, California, New Jersey, and Kansas as a tennis professional. His writing has appeared in numerous national magazines and journals, including Fast Company, Salon.com, and The Atlantic Monthly. He and his wife have raised two game-obsessed boys—among their accomplishments are stints on the pro-gaming squads of SK Gaming and Fnatic.

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In Real Life 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
A Compelling Story, Should Consider Adding to Middle School Syllibi I would like to thank Tuttle Publishing & NetGalley for granting me a copy of this e-book to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Goodreads Teaser: "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." An entertaining read, this book nails the challenges and complexities of life as a teenager. Even if it is an extraordinary life. Seth, a.k.a. ActionSeth, is a hugely popular Starfare player in the US, ranked in the top ten of US players. At sixteen that's quite an accomplishment, yet he's not satisfied. He really, really wants to play on a top Korean team. But they start really young, train day and night, and generally burn-out before they hit their early twenties. Still, it's been Seth's dream for as long as he can remember. Or it was until he met Hannah, an East Coast transplant. Once he meets Hannah his dreams gets a bit blurry every time he's with her, and even a while after. Both Seth and Hannah are well portrayed characters, though as the story is told from Seth's point of view we get the best sense of who he is. And he is a complicated young man, maybe more so than your average teen. He's always been super smart, taking college courses while still in high school, and graduating at sixteen. Yet he's got all the same insecurities as your average sixteen-year-old, unsure how to read the signals from his crush, not sure what he wants to do with his life beyond Starfare, the normal confusion that comes with hormones and lack of life experience that can only be gained over time. Hannah, having been uprooted from everyone and everything she's known, is forced to spend her senior year of high school at a new school. She learns first hand what happens to friendships, and relationships, when people are separated by geographical locations. So when Seth gets the chance of a lifetime to move to Korea and play on Team Anaconda, one of their top teams, Hannah starts to pull away from Seth. She explains it to him, but he never really gives up hope. Maybe that's because most of his friends are online, other Starfare players around the country. Seth packs up and heads to Korea. His experiences there are so well described. It's clear that Tabak must have spent time in a foreign country, because he nails so many of the little things that make moving to another country such a challenge, especially when you don't speak the language. The feelings of isolation, loss, excitement, loneliness, longing to hear your language, being homesick. . . And for Seth it's all compounded as he's been made into a celebrity. He's getting endorsement deals, doing talk shows, and generally being treated like a prize heifer - trotted out for publicity and then put back into his stall to train in Starfare for between eight and ten hours a day.  Seth soon discovers that his passion for Starfare isn't what it once was. Sure, his game has improved, but things with his team aren't what he'd hoped. In fact his only friend on the team is going to quit. It seems that it was his father that dreamed of having a champion Starfare player, while Sung Gi dreamed of something altogether different. But since his father is a high ranking executive at Team Anaconda's sponsoring company, he got a spot on the team, regardless of his ability. But his decision to quit, along with other news he shared, got Seth thinking. Talking things out with the few English-speaking friends he'd made helped Seth see things more clearly, including his path forward. This story was nicely developed, being split into two parts. The first portion of the story sets things up with Seth's history, his obsession with Starfare, and then bringing Hannah into Seth's orbit. The slow, sweet unfurling of things between Seth and Hannah was lovely to watch, including Seth's confusion about how to talk to her, let alone when he should try to do more than talk. The brief interludes when Seth asks his older brother Garrett for advice are entertaining, and fairly predictable, as Garrett seems to think that one thing will solve all Seth's problems - regardless of the problem. It actually shows Garrett to be more immature than Seth in certain ways. And Garrett is a great example of what Seth's life could be down the line, if he sticks to his current path, though that is left to the reader to discover the correlations between the two situations. Hannah's role throughout the story remains much the same, for she is a solid character who knows what she wants to do with her life. And so many things fall into place for her while Seth is in Korea. Will she still be interested in seeing him if he gives it all up and comes home? Or has she found someone else already? Although Seth is fixated on Hannah, he is sweetly oblivious to certain things near the end. Things that let the end remain a mystery, allowing the reader to decide how things will fall out. It's not a cliffhanger ending, because there is a clear end, yet at the same time it hints at a future path for both Hannah and Seth. The question is, will their paths end up bringing them together or sending them forever apart? As much as I liked the title, for it really does describe the story, I was surprised that it wasn't written as IRL, the computer and texting shortcut for In Real Life, seeing as so much of the focus was on computer gaming, online texting, chatting, and even Skyping. Maybe Tabak thought it was too tongue in cheek? The title aside, this is a fun read, and worth the time. It touches on some interesting topics, and handles the character development extremely well. The pacing of the story is smooth, and flows well with what is happening in the minds and lives of the characters. A good read for middle school and up.