Although the back cover copy hints that there is something larger at work in Playing Tyler, the first half of the book is an introduction to Tyler, a struggling high school student with a drug-addicted brother, and Ani, a brilliant 16 year old Yale student with family issues of her own. The two share a love of video games and meet in real life when Ani’s employer has her install what’s said to be a flight simulator for Tyler to test. The two aren’t supposed to contact each other during the test, but Tyler is so drawn to Ani that he inundates her with messages until she finally responds. As a result, the first half of Playing Tyler is a great story about the bonding of two teens and the romantic feelings they develop for each other. But then the book changes when Tyler makes a connection between his actions in the simulator and a news report. This discovery causes conflict between Tyler and Ani, but also brings them closer when they realize their lives are now in danger. Because this element isn’t introduced until the book is halfway through, there wasn’t enough time to fully explore it. Tyler notes that Rick (Ani’s boss/Tyler’s mentor) is suddenly drinking all the time which should indicate he’s struggling with what he’s doing, but Rick also has no qualms about killing teenagers. His motivations were unclear. Playing Tyler then quickly wraps up with a summarizing chapter that leaves more than a few questions unanswered.
Review copy provided by BookSparksPR.