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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Lesh & Svetlana met one evening when a drunk Lesh gets in the middle of the sidewalk and Svetlana literally runs into him. The two have nothing in common, Lesh being a goth boy and Svetlana being a hippie chick, but it starts a friendship in motion that neither of them expected.
Okay, I know that synopsis is a little crappy, but I didn't know what else to say. This novel covers a lot of strange ground and my brain just refuses to sum it up any other way. I'll start with the characters. First we have Lesh, a emo goth boy who loves metal music. The official description of this novel says he is a MMO player, but he actually plays an MMO for the first time in this novel and then becomes addicted. He's quiet and wears black clothes and comes off as a bit stereotypical. Basically, I didn't love him. I liked that he wasn't a drop death gorgeous hunk with rippling muscles, but after it's all said and done, I think I would have preferred Mister Hunk.
Then we have Svetlana, Lana for short. She's a rich girl with no responsibilities and a big lack of respect for her parents. They are always coercing her to go to soccer games with them that she hates. I get that, I really do, because I also hate watching sports and the idea of going to a game isn't even a tiny bit appealing, but in the teenage years, you don't get to have a choice. Mommy and Daddy say get in the car, you get in the car. And besides, you can take your art with you or your poetry or even a book to read! It's not required that you actually watch the game. She also felt a bit like a snobbish rich girl, complaining about all her luxuries in life. Nice big house, decent car, more or less whatever she wants and she bitches and moans about it. If you don't like it, I'm sure there are more than a few teens in your area that would be thrilled to have your castoffs. And she censors EVERYTHING. She doesn't curse, so she doesn't accept that others might want to and she censors their language in her mind. >.<
There are a handful of other characters, but none I really care to comment on. Except maybe Fry. I didn't really like Fry and I found him a bit annoying, but he was so genuinely nice to Lana even when she was a bitch to him that I felt kinda bad for him. I get that she doesn't like him, but that is no reason to be cruel!
Something that really bugged me was the new and different thing Brezenoff tried here. The story is told through alternating perspectives. We get Lesh, Lana, and Svvetlana (the MMO character Lesh made). A first I thought it was a little amusing to be reading from a game character's perspective, but trust me when I say it gets really old really fast. I don't care about what's happening in Svvetlana's life enough to want to live it through her eyes!
Another thing was the refusal to name the MMO Lesh is playing and the RPG Lana is playing. It's World Of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons, k? How hard is that to say? Every time they mention the game (GOTCHA) it's either that MMO or the RPG, never giving them and actually name and that is a pet peeve of mine. I get that you want to story to be relatable, even to people who don't like particular games, so you leave them gloriously vague, but it drives me up a goddamn wall. And speaking of gaming problems, I hated all the game slang Lesh used. ALL OF IT. It's either completely wrong or so outdated that it's not funny. Nobody calls their characters toons or says rezzie. NO ONE. It just doesn't happen in real life.
When I started this, I was looking for something new and fresh. A cute take on gamers and the odd way they live their lives. You definitely get that, but it felt forced and fake to me. If you take out my feelings about how gaming was portrayed, then it was a weird little story about Lesh's obsession with Svetlana and his desire to be her (don't even ask). It's not a bad story, per say, but it's not a great one either. The cover promises an awesome tale and I think it lies.
****Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****