Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
By chance one night, sixteen-year-old Lesh and eighteen-year-old Svetlana run into each other—literally. After that chance meeting, they begin eating lunch together at school and slowly learn they have more in common than they might think. On the outside, they’re total opposites: Svetlana is a blonde embroidery aficionado and expert dungeon master of her friend group’s RPG; Lesh is a gangly, metal-loving, black-wearing boy. While they get closer, Lesh begins playing an online fantasy game as a beautiful elfen priestess he names Svvetlana (two v’s), partly because he thinks messing with online nerds is fun, but mostly because he admires the real Svetlana so much, he sort of wants to be exactly like her. As Svetlana (one v) and Lesh get closer and start to fall for each other, Lesh has to face his true feelings for the girl he admires so much - does he want to be with her or does he just want to be her?
This book is fun, quirky, romantic, and deep. Fans of online gaming and role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons will find kindred spirits in the artfully crafted characters of Svetlana and Lesh, but even those who have no experience with such games will still enjoy the story. Told through alternating first-person perspectives, readers really get to know the two main characters intimately and will find that many problems they face are familiar. The book also tackles difficult issues like gender identity and what it means to be a boy or girl, stalking and the negative effects it brings, and family dynamics when you’e a teenager and you just want to be alone in a family that can’t seem to let you grow up. Overall, Guy in Real Life is an excellent read that expertly blends fantasy and realistic fiction.
* Contains severe language, moderate sexual content, and moderate (video game) violence.