Playing Tyler

Playing Tyler by T.L. Costa

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…. 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.

Playing Tyler by T.L. Costa is a fast-paced YA novel that is part thriller part treatise on modern warfare.  Tackling heavy issues such as PTSD, drug abuse, and military drones, the story is told from the point of view of Tyler, a top video gamer with ADHD, and game designer, Ani.  Tyler’s chapters are staccato with thoughts and expletives flying off in all directions.  At times, Tyler’s short, random thoughts are annoying but overall serve his character.  Although the story is predictable, Costa gives each character a unique voice.

Playing Tyler covers many topics that have made headlines recently but does not go into a lot of depth.  The ending felt a little bit rushed, and I wish there had been more opportunity for the characters to deal with the issues that haunt them.

Ani, aka Slayergrrl, is a sixteen-year-old freshman at Yale, designer of the popular World of Fire, and three-time ILG champion.  Lover of skinny jeans and anime tees, Ani’s style captures Tyler’s attention from the moment they meet.  I imagine she’d dress like this…

Geek Fashion



This book was sent to me for review and is part of the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge.  Stay tuned for more book reviews this summer.


  1. Pretty awesome outfit! That sounds a bit like “Ender’s Game” to me. A game, that might not really be just a game…cool!