Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff Review

2 star review:

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Dear potential readers,

This book tells the story of a boy who impersonates a female elf in a make-believe role playing game (RPG). He’s grounded and frankly…has nothing to do. He’s a metal boy, or Goth if you ask me. I should know, I hung out with Goths in High School. Don’t even ask. He even meets some fellow gamers, one of which actually believes he’s a girl. This sick fuck is named Lesh. He drunkenly knocks into a girl, who amazes him at every turn. Her name is Svetlana. Oh…and he names his avatar after her. Can you smell the insta-love? He’s fascinated by Lana; by her hippy clothes, her green notebooks (one of which he ruined), and her plain looks. But let me let you in on something: Lana’s looks aren’t plain. Her clothes may be strange, but that doesn’t mean she’s not pretty. She’s a geek to others. Everyone looks at her as if she’s nothing but a girl who rambles on about poetry and her arts and crafts projects. He and Svetlana (the human), nicknamed Lana, have lunch together and start to become friends. Eventually Lesh starts to become attractive to Lana as well…you can probably guess where that’ll end up. To sum up: it’s a story about two emo kids who “fall in love”.

Emo Boy Drools over Hippy Girl:

I felt throughout the majority of this book that Lesh was portrayed as a stereotypical overly emotional Goth boy. He wears a black coat, baggy black pants, has black bangs, and he even stares at the ceiling while he listens to metal music.

1. Not all “metal boys” are like this.

2. Not all guys/girls into metal bands deck out in all black.

3. Why would you want to portray a stereotype to a reader? Wouldn’t you want to portray a character that doesn’t buy into that stereotype?

My problem with Lana wasn’t just her actions, which I’ll explain; it’s the way she’s presented as the poor rich girl. She’s a fucking snowflake who complains about everything! Her car, her parent’s giant house, her parent’s being soccer fanatics, and she even censors people when swearing:

Example 1:“Where the fun have you been?”
Example 2:“What the truck?”
Example 3:“Holy Fork”
Example 4:“This is forking ridiculous.”

If she doesn’t swear, that’s great. But, please don’t push your personal judgments onto other people. My friends know that I swear like a sailor. I do not share the opinion that swearing equals having little intelligence. Look, the amount of fucks you say in a day or in a review, does not define your lack of intelligence. Nor does it define a bad person, either. Another thing: I found it hard to like a heroine who preaches to others what they’re doing wrong; even if said preaching happens in her head. Telling people what they should and should not do isn’t a quality I like to see in a heroine. I like heroines who are assertive and can actually stand up for them selves. I did not get this with Lana.

Why is Lana a snowflake?

1. I usually don’t judge characters for how they look. But when a character is so blind as to say that person isn’t gorgeous when the description says otherwise:

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not giving you the old “helmet comes off, blond hair shakes and falls in waves on the gorgeous girl” routine. This is more like white blond, first of all, rather than golden, and it falls not in waves, but in a matted bunch of twists and clumps and messy flyaways-like actual corn silk…

A girl with white blond hair and the color of corn silk, sounds like she’s gorgeous to me:

I can’t even be sure she’s really standing there. Under the flickering white light of the lamp in the super USA parking lot, she looks like an angel, as imagined in the movies of the 1920s.

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either that or:

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2. She complains about her nice car:

I do not want to be seen in this car, and I do not want people about whom I care to be seen in this car either. This is not me being snobbish, by the way. I’ll get to that in a minute. I simply appreciate things of a particular beauty…

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when most teens don’t even have cars. Usually if you want a car, you pay for it by getting a job. But she also lives in her rich parents giant house, which she hates:

“What? This house? What’s not to like about this house? It’s huge.”
“True,” she says, but she doesn’t explain…

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3. She doesn’t go anywhere with her parents unless she wants to. When I was a teen, I had to go places with my parents without question. She makes an activity wheel so that her parents will know that she’s busy. I know that most teens don’t want to go anywhere with their parents, but the stuff they’re asking really isn’t that big of a deal. They ask her to go to soccer games and to go places that actually sounds okay to me. But being the crafty lass that she is, she doesn’t want to go places where there’s a healthy source of oxygen…and people.

Character Development aka the Romance:

The only characters that I felt actually had some depth were Lesh and Lana’s parents and the protagonists themselves. I felt like Lesh and Lana’s friendship happened realistically, but their romantic relationship did not. I don’t see how they went from being friends for less than two weeks to instantly becoming romantic with each other. It’s like there was a big development jump that wasn’t included in the book. One moment they hang out only while they have lunch together, which by the way has very little conversing. So while I loved that they started as friends, the author left out something very integral in their relationship development.

What else? Oh the Plot!

It’s predictable. For a good deal of the book I could see where things were going to end up. It’s unfortunate; I wanted to find a book with a positive and unique take on the gaming community. But here’s the thing: this book went off on a lot of tropes when it comes to the gaming community. I won’t really go into it because it’s a bit of a spoiler. However since it’s obvious it won’t take you long to figure it out.

Miscellaneous Things That Bothered Me:

1. The Portrayal of Women:

The portrayal of Jelly bothered me, a lot. She’s portrayed as, well a slut. When Lesh and some of his friends go to a concert “Jelly wiggles and slaps her but at a dad in a Subaru.” The author differentiates the women by mean girls=sluts and gamer girls= friendly to other girls. Lesh later on says to his friend Greg:

“I knew it,” I said over my shoulder to Greg.
“We missed the beginning ‘cause we had to stop to pick up those two skanks.”
“We definitely did,” Greg says, and he’s ogling one of them as she digs around in her bag and finds a bundle of singles.

This is not even slightly realistic or respectful. I’ve been friends with girls into metal music, and the majority that I’ve met have been really nice. Doesn’t mean all of them were nice. But the way the author portrayed these girls made me think that girls who were mean were also sluts. Just because a girl is mean, doesn’t mean they’re a slut. Some girls are just hateful and mean. I’ve experienced this personally, many times. This is a terrible way to present girl relationships to teens. It’s even worse to show adults this because it means that it might never end in Young Adult or Adult fiction. I’d like to believe this idea that a mean girl defines a slut would go away in a couple decades. But, I guess that’s too much to ask.

2. Lana’s Treatment of Fry

The way that Lana treats Fry is incredibly unfair. I totally applaud her ability to tell him she doesn’t feel about him the way he feels about her, but the way she went about it was awful. Just because he annoys Lana, doesn’t mean she has the right to treat him as if he’s below her:

He was never nice to me,” I insist. “That’s not being nice.”
“Sort of it is,” Hen says. “He talks to you and smiles at you. That’s something.”
“No, it isn’t. It’s lecherousness.”

She assumes she knows him when really how much does she know him if she’s not even truly friends with him? From my perspective Fry seems like a lonely kid who just has a crush on a girl he’s known for a long time. He’s a bit of a misfit and kinda awkward. No one has the right to treat someone with reverence just because they’re annoying:

I don’t like him, but I know him like the underside of my down comforter. He’s been around longer, actually, but he’s nowhere near as pleasant to be with. The point is, I know what he’s thinking before he does.

The worst part is that there’s no resolution to this. I feel like I have to let this be known because I don’t want you get your hopes up, like I did mine. I thought the author would at least provide some sort of resolution when it concerns Fry.

But alas, all I kept thinking was:

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