*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to Meg Eden, author and organiser of the Nerd Girl Books blog tour. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Buffy’s your typical cosplaying, retro-gaming, con-going geek girl, but as her high school graduation approaches, she finds she has an unwelcome guest in her mind: <>the text parser.
Narrating her life like it’s a classic adventure game (cough Zork cough), the text parser forces her to interact with the world through a series of a typewritten commands:
Go to party.
Fall in love.
At first it’s pretty cool. It’s not easy making the transition from high school to college. It’s not easy dealing with roommates. It’s not easy being in a new relationship with her lifelong crush. Buffy makes some huge mistakes along the way, but the text-parser lets her fix all of them.
It’s like having superpowers…until the text parser won’t shut up.
Buffy is desperate to get rid of it, but no matter how many times she tries to restart or reset, the text parser won’t go away. Before long, her life starts to crumble: her friends grow apart, her roommates turn against her, and her boyfriend falls into a deep depression. Buffy’s life has become a game, but how can you win when there’s no final boss?
Narrated in the style of classic adventure games, Post–High School Reality Quest is is a captivating coming-of-age story that T. E. Carter calls a “must read” for all gamers and YA fans.
Post High School Reality Quest is Young Adult coming-of-age story with a difference. The majority of the book is written in video game ‘text adventure’ style.
The ‘narrator’ addresses the explanatory and descriptive passages in the second-person, aimed at the main character, Buffy, who responds with text prompts as she attempts to navigate the ‘game’ of her life.
This is, at heart, a story about transitions – child to adult, friend to lover, sane to… well, er – as Buffy struggles to grasp, not only her own place in life and in her relationships, but her perceptions of reality itself. And the reader is right there alongside her! Is Buffy schizophrenic and hallucinating voices in her head? Or can she really ‘save’ her progress at crucial moments and reset to a previous save if things go wrong? Why can she only save or reset at certain points and not on demand? Is the narrator her own mental process at work, or something more invasive? And is it there to help and guide (as it claims), or… ?
Some of these questions are answered as the story progresses, and others are left to the reader to draw their own conclusions.
There is humour here, as Buffy and the ‘text parser’ banter with each other in a sardonically affectionate way, but there is also all of the sadness, anger, displacement and drama that often accompanies the teenage years, when every problem seems insurmountable and the application of liberal amounts of alcohol often only exacerbates the instability.
I really identified with Buffy (or rather, my teen self did!) and felt achingly sad for her obvious loneliness, even when surrounded by friends, and I empathised with her lack of a clear direction and purpose in life. I have sometimes thought my own life would be clearer and more simple if there were a defined ‘winning scenario’ that I could aim for!
I would recommend this book to teen and young adult readers (and above), especially gaming fans. It deals with serious issues around peer pressure, depression, social isolation, mental illness and suicidal thoughts in a sensitive, yet direct way, and the format is fresh and exciting. Well worth a slot on your memory card.
You are in a psychiatrist’s office.
> No, I’m not.
I’m sorry, I don’t understand “no, I’m not.” Who do you think they’re going to believe? The narrator, or the character who is here because she was found living in a telephone booth on the other side of town, talking to herself?
– Meg Eden, Post High School Reality Quest
Post High School Reality Quest is available on Amazon right now!
Nerd Girl Books Giveaway:
Free books! Nerd Girl Books are running a giveaway in which you can win some of the books featured on this blog tour. Just click on the link below and follow the instructions to be in with a chance at winning (ends 31/07/19)!
Finally, please don’t forget to check out the other stops on this blog tour (details on the poster below) for more great NGB content and reviews!