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Playing Tyler

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  246 ratings  ·  107 reviews
When is a game not a game?

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.

Tyler’s dad is dead and his mom has mentally checked out. The only person he can really count on is his Civilian Air P
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Strange Chemistry (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  246 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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Jun 15, 2013 rated it liked it
This a story about an kind of ADHD who is a great at video games and get's recruited to beta test a new piece of hardware being developed by a subsidiary of a Blackwater type corporation.

You know this isn't going to go well.

The software in the hardware was developed by a gaming/hacker prodigy girl, whose now attending Yale at sixteen years old and has also developed some kind of massively popular game that people wiser than me into gaming might be able to tell if it's some shooter, Call of Duty
Faye, la Patata
Read this and my other reviews at The Social Potato!

An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way. Thank you so much, Strange Chemistry!

Disclaimer: This can get quite ranty. And spoiler-y. Read at your own risk

Mother of all migraines. If there's a book that pushed me to become an angry Hulk, it's this. Playing Tyler is definitely one of my biggest disappointments this year, as it was successful in making me rage, stomp the fl
Christopher  Nelson
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened PLAYING TYLER by T L Costa. The vibrant elements of the cover alone were enough to make me stop and devour the details with dark intrigue.

And I was taken after the first paragraph, my life consigned to Tyler and Ani for the next fourteen hours. I could not put it down.

The voice of protagonist Tyler MacCandless is rendered in perfect ADHD, so much to the point that I found myself reading faster and pedaling my own foot with each moment spent wit
Whitley Birks
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This review and others are on Whitley Reads

This book was provided free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
I’m just going to get something out upfront. This book is pretty good at doing emotional responses. When it comes to family drama. There were a few points where I would get choked up even though I wasn’t agreeing with what was going on. And awkward teenage dating? Spot-on accurate.

Okay, we clear on that? The book did some stuff well? Got that out of the way? Good.

Everything els
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, reviewed
Check out this review and others at Badass Book Reviews

Playing Tyler vaguely reminded me of Ender's Game meets Ready Player One, but in the real world. I won’t tell you what I mean because I’ll give away the plot, but rest assured that this is a refreshing story with appealing characters, a very interesting premise and thought provoking questions about patriotism. This is a book that I think every teenager (and grown up) should read because it deals with important issues happening in the world t
I have absolutely no idea where or how to start this review, since T. L. Costa seems to have robbed me of my ability to think, so I'm just going to jump right in and say this book was wonderful. It completely took me by surprise. I looked at this and I thought videogames, which is fine, since I read Ready Player One and loved it, even though it was completely - completely - out of my comfort zone. Playing Tyler is not so far out, but enough that I was hoping this would work for me. And of course ...more
Laine The Librarian
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Playing Tyler has not come out yet, but I was approved of reading it a head of time using It is a great site that let's you read the books before they come out. As a Librarian this is a great advantage for me so when the books come into the Library, I am able to inform our patrons how good the book is and if it is worth reading :)!!!

You have ADHD. You can't sit through class. Your always fidgeting, always wanting to move. Don't like the pills for the pills always give you a weird
I received a copy of this from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. So I won't lie.

I utterly, utterly loved this.

Tyler's voice in this is so distinctive. It would have been possible to tell who was telling their story (Ani or Tyler) without any of the chapter headings. There was no mistaking Tyler's speech patterns. I mean this in a good way. What was told from his perspective was often quite staccato - showing his ADHD - but then the sentences would become shorter, choppier as he became
Christian Schoon
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-thrillers
T.L. Costa's Playing Tyler is a wickedly perceptive, powerhouse YA read from start to jacked-up-pulse-rate finish. Costa has gotten right on into the heads of her two teen protagonists and proceeds to take us for a street-level thrill-ride through their world of high-tech intrigue, computer-gaming-savvy and dark military-industrial espionage and treachery. The characters are cool, engaging and richly authentic, the plot is a deftly routed maze where trust is a lethal luxury and the romance is a ...more
A.G. Howard
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book's flawed and authentic MCs wrapped themselves around my heart and had me rooting for them from the get-go. Gamers will LOVE the twisty-techno rich plot, but you don't have to be a gamer to appreciate the genuine relationships and emotions between all of the characters. A must read for anyone who loves conspiracy theories, action with a side of romance, or voice and character driven contemporary YA.
C.G. Drews
When words fail, compare PLAYING TYLER to the Bourne series.

I loved this book! It had the perfect balance of epic action and contemporary normality (er, jury’s not out on definition of “normality” yet, though). Of all the contemporary’s I’ve read this year, this had the highest stakes. Yesssss. High stakes, the odd gun, computer games, and a totally goopy romance to hold it all together (it’s like eggs in a cake!).

Speaking of cooking, if you threw the Jason Bourne series in with ENDER’S GAME a
Michael Underwood
The thing that struck me right away about Playing Tyler was the voice. Tyler MacCandless has ADHD, and the narration shows it, loud and clear. The narration is more choppy in places where Tyler is stressed or un-medicated, and becomes smoother when he is in control, at peace.

The plot focuses around Tyler’s work testing a new flight simulator, which he thinks will be his ticket into flight school and out of his dead-end life. But the’re a whole lot more going on than a fancy beta test.

One of my
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Playing Tyler T.L. Costa captures the voice(s) of her two teen protagonists with pitch-perfect accuracy, and then layers these two real-as-they-come characters into a story crackling with emotional tension, highlighted by a totally authentic, deftly constructed romantic approach-avoidance dance powering a plot that dares the reader to guess which way the high-tech, vid-game-savvy intrigue will dodge-and-weave next. Playing Tyler is a superb read that any fan of tight-and-fast YA thrillers will w ...more
Initial thoughts - Great debut book for author T.L. Costa. I loved her characters and the story, while a little predictable, kept me on the edge of my seat. Nicely done.

The Review

Playing Tyler by debut author T.L. Costa was a nice little surprise, a breath of fresh air among all the Young Adult novels available right now. The author captures all the insecurities, incoherent thoughts, and emotions of the main character so well. Compounded with the usual angst of being a teenager, Tyler also suff
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was like nothing I expected! It was a whirlwind of events and I ate it up. I expected the book to be slightly sci-fi with the whole 'what if it's more than a game?' type of thing. I expected it to be sort of similar to Gibson's Neuromancer but I was so wrong. For that, I am so happy. It opened my eyes to a new genre and also surprised me in my way of thinking. Half way through the book, I looked up the author and discovered that she was female. Having read the back and roughly half of ...more
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Tyler is a teen boy who feels like he has to take care of his brother Brandon, who is in rehab again and his mother who can’t seem to move on since the death of his father and her son Brandon who does not seem to be able to kick his drug habit. Tyler spends his time gaming trying to escape reality and he is recruited by his mentor Rick to test out a new game and then he meets the game’s designer and falls for her. Then things start getting strange with the game and he can’t figure out what’s rea ...more
Gerri Brousseau
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. TL Costa really nailed it. Costa brought me right into the mind of a teen boy with ADHD, with the scattered though process and the inability to sit still. This is not to mention added factor of the emotions and insecurities of the teenaged male, and all this coupled with the video game! WOW. My son (now an adult) was (and still is) a real gamer. Costa must have a child who is, or must know one because she was right on the money. As I said, I loved this book and I'm looking for ...more
Secret Dearest {Klaudyna}
Apr 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
I really like the cover though.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Characters- Tyler- I LOVED Tyler!! He has ADHD and his parts are written with run on sentences and with incomplete thoughts so that every time I read his thoughts I read them really fast like his brain was working. I liked the way TL Costa wrote his thoughts because it gives some insight into the way a person with ADHD thinks, how their brain functions. It's so different than what you imagine it to be. I have two sons with the disorder and I've never really understood how it felt. But reading Ty ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
From The BiblioSanctum.

My thanks to Netgalley and Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry for providing me with an e-ARC of Playing Tyler in exchange for an honest review. When I read the synopsis for this young adult novel, it was the video game angle that initially piqued my interest. Being an avid gamer myself, I was immediately drawn to the story.

It begins with just a typical day for 17-year-old Tyler MacCandless. Tyler has ADHD, but has long stopped taking his medication because his older brother Bra
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
*Also posted at Oops! I Read A Book Again*

Thank you to Amanda of Strange Chemistry for the ARC! As always, everything in here would be my honest opinions.

I've always had a soft spot for novels with a protagonist who's diagnosed with a mental or psychological syndrome/illness. Some of those that I loved are Flowers of Algernon by Daniel Keyes and The Curious Incident of the Dog at the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I cried in the first and I related so much to the second. My younger brother is diagno
Playing Tyler by T. L. Costa follows Tyler MacCandless, ADHD gaming enthusiast and wanna be pilot, as he accidentally uncovers the conspiracy behind the game that his pilot mentor, Rick, is paying him to beta test. Considering the title and tagline of the book, it is not much of a surprise that the game is more than just a game. The text does not confirm this immediately, but we get plenty of hints and a buildup of dramatic irony. When Tyler and Ani discover this conspiracy, we are treated to a ...more
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Before I address anything else, I have to address the question that popped into my head after finishing the book: is Playing Tyler science fiction? Arguments could be made for both answers to that question. While there is a lot of tech, gaming, and computers etc. crucial to the plot of the book, what is the science fictional idea behind it? Is it the gamification of war by remote control? Gamers changing the world? I'm not sure. If there is far future and near future SF, this book is current SF, ...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galleys, read-in-2013
Tyler MacCandless hasn't had an easy life. After his father is killed by a drunk driver, Tyler's brother starts taking pain killers due to his injuries from the accident, eventually leading to a nasty heroin addiction. On top of that Tyler's mom is mentally checked out -- she's working hard to pay for rehab and to try to keep the family afloat. To make matters worst Tyler has ADHD and can't focus on anything, especially not school, which leaves his future looking pretty bleak.

If there's one thin
Tsana Dolichva
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Playing Tyler by TL Costa is the author's début novel. It's a contemporary science fiction novel about two clever teens, one who writes advanced software and the other who is suffering from ADHD.

Playing Tyler has been described as "Ender's Game meets X" and I would say that's a very apt description. Not because there are space battles or aliens but because of the idea of children remotely fighting a war (which is a spoiler for Ender's Game but not Playing Tyler since it's pretty much written on
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Whistle Blowing Heroics or Treasonous Acts?

ADHD does not equal stupid, but that message has not yet spread to Tyler’s world…especially with the multiple learning challenges heaped on him. Classmates don’t understand his exaggerated need to move, teachers misinterpret his behaviors, the principal seems uncertain if he wants Tyler on or off drugs, and any remote possibility of staying focused is demolished with his need to care for his mom and Brandon. If it weren’t for Rick, his Civil Air Patrol
Jul 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I love the bottom half of the PLAYING TYLER cover. The red poppies against the white are dramatic and different, especially in person. But the silhouette of the helicopter feels awkwardly angled and out of balance to me. The way I feel about the cover is similar to how I feel about the book. There are parts I really like, and parts I really don't.

PLAYING TYLER alternates between two points of view. Tyler MacCandless is a talented gamer, but he's failing school. He doesn't want to take his ADHD m
Lisa Creane
The story is great, an update of War Games for a new generation since that movie's never on TV anymore.

Tyler's life at the book's beginning is as depressing as the barren lands he monitors by drone. His voice is choppy, pissed-off and repetitive but is interlaced with the voice of Ani, the prodigy game designer, and the back-and-forth between them works to even out the intense misery of Tyler.

But then he finds his niche in life, for a while, and it's kind of glorious to experience with him. I s
Kayla De Leon
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
A free digital copy of this book was procured via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Playing Tyler was one of the most riveting stories I have ever read. Plot wise, it was unique and totally different from other books. As I type this, I am mentally applauding T.L. Costa for writing such a wonderful novel.

Playing Tyler started out slow and rough. The writing style takes some time to get used to especially the parts in Tyler’s perspective. Tyler has ADHD so naturally, his point of view was
Melanie R Meadors
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Playing Tyler is a YA thriller that pulls NO punches. Costa’s respect for teens is apparent from the get-go. Nothing is sugar-coated. A super pet peeve of mine in YA is when an author tones things down a little for their audience, and in turn, makes the story and characters unbelievable. There is none of that here. Neither is the opposite–making things so abysmal that reading the book makes you want to kill yourself. Instead, we have a believable, yet rough, family situation from which evolves a ...more
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