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Looking for Group

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So, yeah, I play Heroes of Legend, y’know, the MMO. I’m not like obsessed or addicted or anything. It’s just a game. Anyway, there was this girl in my guild who I really liked because she was funny and nerdy and a great healer. Of course, my mates thought it was hilarious I was into someone I’d met online. And they thought it was even more hilarious when she turned out to be a boy IRL. But the joke’s on them because I still really like him.

And now that we’re together, it’s going pretty well. Except sometimes I think Kit—that’s his name, sorry I didn’t mention that—spends way too much time in HoL. I know he has friends in the guild, but he has me now, and my friends, and everyone knows people you meet online aren’t real. I mean. Not Kit. Kit's real. Obviously.

Oh, I’m Drew, by the way. This is sort of my story. About how I messed up some stuff and figured out some stuff. And fell in love and stuff.

294 pages, Paperback

First published August 27, 2016

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About the author

Alexis Hall

51 books11.7k followers
Genrequeer writer of kissing books.

Please note: I don’t read / reply to DMs. If you would like to get in touch, the best way is via email which you can find in the contact section on my website <3

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 333 reviews
Profile Image for Francesca.
590 reviews2 followers
August 30, 2016
I must confess to a certain level of trepidation in sharing my thoughts on this book as it is undeniable that of late one has to contend with the fear of retribution, gaslighting and public shaming/hounding when expressing opinions outside of the adoring party line.
I almost didn't bother with it because honestly? I could do without the hassle but then I thought well, no. I have an opinion on a book I read and I will write about it.

So here goes nothing. I thoroughly disliked this book - I'd go as far as saying that this is without the shadow of a doubt the worst book I read this year. Now before you go for my throat I do have a very long list of reasons with examples of way I did not enjoy this book at all.
Let me start by saying this: Looking For Group had an enormous amount of potential, its scope as described by its author was rather ambitious and it could have been so so good.
Now it is possible that we expect too much at times from authors who have been consistently good, but the thing is some books I love, some I like some I don't and unfortunately this is one of those books that truly disappointed me.

Let's see then shall we?
In Looking For Group the author sets out to write a love letter - if you will - to the gaming community by creating characters who meet, interact and fall into friendship and in love because of it.
The ingredients of this ambitious project were:
A group of keen gamers
The possibility of using the gaming interaction to build action driven character agency while the "main" story focuses on the MCs character development
The affirmative, powerful message that love is love is love and that gender binary is not the only way to go.
The even more affirmative, even more powerful message that online friendship does infact exists and is able to sustain meaningful relationship independently of tangible relationships in very diverse setting
All of the above in the trademark remarkable writing skills of one of the supposedly most acclaimed authors in the mm genre.
My opinion is that none, not even one of those possibly awe inspiring ingredients, managed to combine into making this book the great novel that it could have been.
Allow me if you will to demonstrate and start with the writing:
"The tapestry of my life was a ruin of unraveling threads. The brightest parts were a nonsensical madman's weaving"
That above is from the gorgeous Glitterland - a book whose writing felt like dark chocolate melting in your mouth while reading.
"it was as close at it was going to get to how it used to be" and this, this (is there even a grammatical name for this type of sentence?) is from Looking For Group and I swear that while reading this book I asked myself if I had mistakenly downloaded somebody else's book because surely the award winning author of For Real surely could have not written this level of gibberish!

I see many people apologizing for not being gamers - why are you all doing that folks? We really do need to get out of this frame of mind where one can only read and enjoy what they are familiar with. What happened to reading to learn/experience new things. Let me be clear if this book had been successful at conveying the love of gaming without making it feel like the most cliquish and exclusive club on the internet then maybe, and it is a big maybe, one would have expected a sort of longing apology for not knowing such wonderful and inclusive community.
Unfortunately the gaming parts of the book read like a poorly cobbled together strategy manual written in shorthand to boot. Where the gaming sections could have worked marvelously at taking the character agency to a different level they fell flat and all that they achieve imo is to share some tips on how to play by also strengthening the idea that more than a community this is a clique - a sort of cult if you will. I am not sure how that meshes with the "we are so inclusive message" but hey...
The author describes Looking For Group as a nerdmance and granted there is a sweet thing indeed going on between the two MCs Kit and Drew but the characters, main and secondary alike, are such stick figures that even this very important message is diluted and has no impact whatsoever on the story.
I see this book tagged as YA - as a keen reader of YA my only reaction to this arbitrary labeling is pppppplease, what? I am pretty sure that one major tenet of the fiction category called YA is avoiding to talk down to your characters; characters who in this novel move within the spectrum of using words like "ludonarrative coherence" and "coruscating" to "..hot geeky chick who for whatever reason, was totally into him" and "was sort of xxx but also sort of not (ndw in a myriad of different formats)". Let's put it this way, making your characters 19 doesn't make a book YA and when your audience - despite the heartfelt protest that this book is for young folks figuring out their place in life, love and friendship and gender binaries - is not known for dripping with teenagers and your publisher has no experience whatsoever of publishing YA given that it is a publisher of erotica and romance fiction then maybe one would caution against the use of said YA label. But be my guest, label to your heart content.
The secondary characters - "a series of randoms" as the author so sympathetically puts it - are also as flat as the MC - they are diverse in that way where many of this genre authors do diverse: they are boxes that get ticked, lip serving to an actual need to represent in the genre. And here is my biggest bone of contention - the portrait of women in this book enraged me. Steff wouldn't pass the Bechtel test, she doesn't exist outside of being Sanee's girlfriend and Tinuviel seems to be just a mouth piece to lecture the reader on gender theory. And, and (I promised I spluttered here) she goes on and on and on various subjects of "Great Importance In The Education Of The Binary Masses Which We All Must Be Dressed Down For" (my thought not a quote) but when she is about to talk about feminism (I shit you not) it becomes "something something patriarchal assumptions something commodity model of sex something something"!!!
I mean how more misogyny can you actually cram in a sentence?

So here it is: I didn't like this book - it was dull with flat characters, dreary action and character development, dreadfully poor writing, underlying misogyny and instead of promoting the declared inclusivity ends being one hell of a celebration of cli1ques and cults all over the internet.

I expect this review will probably incense the adoring masses - I have therefore compiled a handy SFASQ (snottily frequently asked statements & questions) for ease of reference. I would add that I am happy to have a meaningful conversation about likes and dislikes and the narrative merits of this novel BUT the people with whom I have those know that this is the case and the ones who will find issue with the review and subtweet and stage whisper wink wink nudge nudge about it are not in the habit of having civilized conversations at all.

Q/S Well obviously if you didn't get the book it wasn't written for you, duh?
A: yes, thank you for pointing that out. I was under the impression that fiction - even contemporary fiction - enriches the lives of the readers by opening up things we didn't know of. From now on, thanks to your insightful question I will only be reading books about 49 year old actively socialists mothers of one with a degree in History & Literature who moved to Dublin from Rome is an unrepentant old school raver reformed junkie with a healthy sex life for her age with a hole in her stomach and wobbly knees....

Q/S: You are a cis white woman, and *GASP* straight how dare you even open your mouth
A: I am, well thanks for labeling me and putting me in a box that makes you feel comfortable while you invalidate my opinion. For the record I am whitish, like you know I have that lovely sallow Italian/roman skin a bit like cappuccino if you must use a food simile. I also have a whole lot of buying power which I use to buy whatever book i take a fancy to or not as the case maybe. I am also a proud European and I don't do well with usian cultural references but eh if it makes you happy use the labels of the politically inept bourgeois - more power to you.
Q/S you are old why are you reading YA/Romance/History
A: I am old and starting to wrinkle (all from laughing I assure you) and BECAUSE I WANT TO
Q/S How dare you give a critique of this book/author/artist (a generic one and this specific one)
A: Suck it up - free world free opinions - personally my relatives fought in an actual World War to guarantee such freedom and your intimidating, bullying, cliquish tactics make me feel unsafe and threatened but have at it just remember this is my space
Q/S: you know nothing about gaming or our wonderfully inclusive community and you are taking it out on the book
A: I also know nothing first hand about Mordor or Narnia or Psychopathic assassins and yet - I know it is hard to grasp -I still enjoyed those books and many others that weren't expressly written to match my personal experience
Q/S Your opinion/breathing/dress colour offended me and hurt me apologise to me possibly in a public auto da fe' sort of ceremony where you also get burnt at the stake for being a lunatic b*tch
A; Eh NO! I didn't like the book learn to live with it - hundreds of other folks will love it. I also like breathing and this colour makes me look not so fat so no dice there either
Q/S your profile says you don't give 1 and 2 stars
A: I made an exception for this book because i thought that it was really, really, really, really, really poor - see also above "learn to live with it"
Profile Image for Noah.
211 reviews82 followers
August 4, 2022
I think this might be the nerdiest book I’ve ever read. I’ve never played an MMO (I used to watch my older brother play World of Warcraft and it bored me to tears), but I do have a 5-star island in Animal Crossing, so call me a gamer with a capital “G”! In all seriousness though, my hobbies are reading and video games, but the thought of reading a book about video games honestly never occurred to me.

Anybody who’s spent any amount of time in online gaming spaces know that most of them are nothing more than cesspools of bile and bigotry, so I was a little trepidatious going into this because I’ve already seen enough of that in my own experiences. I’m so glad I read this though, because at the core of this it’s really just a simple love story about two people who share a connection before even knowing what each other look like, and I think that’s really sweet.

I think the endless “gamer jargon” and pop culture references could be a turn off for some people, but I thought it was a nice depiction of how a bunch of college age nerds would actually talk to each other. Also, some of the debates (about Nolan films, or the Dragon Age games) are debates I’ve had in real life, so I couldn’t say they were unrealistic! And moving past that, it’s a story about a group of people creating a safe space in a normally toxic environment… I think anybody can relate to that.
Profile Image for Mel.
648 reviews78 followers
December 29, 2019
A few years later...

I didn't enjoy the book like I used to. The still super sweet romance could not make up for the otherwise quite tedious gaming setting. I still appreciate the book for what it is doing, though.

So, new rating: 3 stars for enjoyment and another 0.5 stars for appreciation of representation and style.

>> 3.5 stars <<


*** Just as good on a reread :) ***

Oh my goodness, I am dead of the cute and feelz.

For the Group Review on Just Love Romance in all pretty, I'd advise to look on the website... Content is the same as here, though:

Here at JLR, we have a really awesome, close-knit group of reviewers, most of whom met in the Facebook group for authors Santino Hassell and Alexis Hall (affectionately called “Group”). When this book came out, we were all incredibly excited, because it’s a book about meeting people online and forming relationships. Which… is us!

So we got permission to do a “Group” read of Looking For Group, and settled in to read it together.

(Before I start, a quick note from Mel: There is a glossary at the end of the book that I didn’t see until after… and I think this might actually be helpful, for non-MMO players!)

Going in, we had mixed feelings:

Mel: I expect this book to be really nerdy and I expect to be able to appreciate it but not fully get it, because while I know my way around games and things a little, I never played a MMO and I’m not a nerd.

El: I’m admittedly a bit nervous about starting this book. I have high expectations, and I’m worried that the book won’t meet them.

Rafa: I’m expecting a unique blend of geeky gaming jargon and gorgeous Alexis Hall imagery.

And right from the start, I think we could all agree that the book was geeky and chock-full of gaming jargon, and sometimes a bit indecipherable. But as Kristie pointed out, it also “showed how nicely awkward it can be to join a new group… figuring out where you fit in this new space, how they’ll fit with you.”

Mel: What Alexis wrote in his blog about the book being for and not merely about nerds is definitely true and I really love that he wrote a book for them.

Rafa: Struggled with gaming lingo and keeping track of the barrage of characters. I suspect this will get easier the further I read, hopefully?

El: As someone who is not a gamer at all, I found it jarring and confusing, difficult to follow, and ultimately inaccessible. I did enjoy seeing a group of friends having fun instead of taking the game too seriously, which was important to show Drew appreciating that change from his previous guilt.

Rita: Halfway through it hit me how strange and wonderful it is that Drew was able to join a group of complete strangers and work together as a team. By now I’ve resigned myself to the fact that not having any MMO experience has me lost a good part of the time but I keep feeling that if I were into this type of gaming I’d be thinking “YES! Finally someone has written a book just for me!” and I kinda love that.

Kristie: There is so much actual game play written out that you have to read through to get to the interpersonal feelings. It’s better because they’re actually speaking and not texting, but still. It was too much for me. The game play dialogue does get better!

At about the one-third point, El had to mark the book as Did Not Finish. ���Simply understanding what was happening took up so much of my mental focus that I had nothing to spare to actually enjoy what I deciphered. I’m not a gamer.”

Another thing everyone noted was that only the group chats were difficult to follow, and those took a backseat to the one-on-one interactions between Drew and Solace as the book progressed:

Mel: I really love how Solace is such a curious character, how she likes to explore the game world—and since Drew is tagging along, he’s learning to enjoy it anew (or even for the first time) in this way. The descriptions of the gaming sequences are also engrossing and entertaining.

Rita: The world building of HoL is incredible. Drew’s appreciation for the details really shines through and gives us a vivid look into this vast realm of challenges and possibilities. I felt like I was right there in the game with them.

And those one-on-one interactions in the game between Drew and Solace were definitely making the book more enjoyable. There was no denying that Hall was able to show a gorgeous, slow-build romance between the two main characters, and everyone agreed that it was incredibly well-done:

Mel: I really, really appreciate that Drew’s insecureness isn’t glossed over but taken serious. It’s not rushed or for the sake of romance smoothly moved forward. I totally get that he needs a bit of time to process things.
He gave a little whimper and stuck his head back under the covers. Right now, he had no idea who he was or what he was or where he was going or what he was doing or what he wanted. Tinuviel would probably tell him placidly that This is all very fluid and complicated, Andrew, and that labels were meaningless.

Rafa: The flirting [on their first date] was on point. I can really begin to see and appreciate how supportive they are of each other both emotionally and tactically – they’re totally a unit, and I dig that.

Rita: There were a lot of “Awww’s” and “Heeeeee’s”. They are so adorable together I could barely stand it <333 I loved that [Drew’s] just going with it and following his heart.

Kristie: I love [Drew’s] bravery. The realization that Solace is someone he misses when he’s not around. That he’s able to know himself enough to move forward and talk. And Kit is seriously the coolest dude ever. I understand and get how he needs to keep guarded, but love that he’s willing to try too.

And, furthermore, the relationship was one that many of us could relate to, having found both friends and romances of our own online:

Rita: Drew and Solace have become such good friends that Drew is afraid to lose that by asking for more. This is such a common problem in a friends-to-possibly-lovers relationship and it really hits home for me because it’s scary as hell to take the risk of that first step that may ruin everything that’s been built thus far. This quote struck me:
“He was starting to think that maybe one of the things about sex was that you put up your own barriers. Worrying about what someone else would think about you. Or what you might accidentally be showing them or telling them. But if you liked someone—really liked someone—then… suddenly none of that mattered anymore. And it was no different from anything else you did together.”

I needed to read this when I was Drew’s age. I think it would’ve helped to ease my self-conscious mind.

Mel: I love how they are so openly awkward and insecure with each other. And they are right: Talking behind a screen is often so much easier. I am the same. I am a lot more open and empathetic on screen than IRL because there is nothing to hide behind.

Another overwhelmingly favorite aspect of the book was the relationships that formed between both main characters and their friends—especially Tinuviel!

Kristie: I love his mates. Just love them. Drew has some pretty amazing friends. Tinuviel… just wow. She’s totally the shit.

Rita: Tinuviel knows what’s up! She may be my favorite character ever and I hope she gets her own book someday. She’s incredibly insightful and lays down all the knowledge on human relationships.
As long as you cared about what you were doing and who you were doing it with, then it didn’t matter if you were in a pub or your living room or on a virtual rock in an imaginary kingdom in a video game.

In the end, the romance between Drew and Kit (Solace) won out over the initial confusion during the chat scenes, and all of the remaining reviewers agreed that it was an incredible book:

Rafa: I finished this book with a grin on my face. It wasn’t perfect, and some parts were downright tedious… but it was a really sweet, really nerdy romance, and I am a complete sucker for that particular combination. I don’t know if there’s a way to calculate this, but probably a good 50% of the novel took place within HoL, and probably half of that was spent in less-than-exciting circumstances (fishing, waiting for the sunrise, or doing the easy-peasy older versions of the game). I totally expected to get bored… but credit to the author for somehow using those in-game moments to build the story and grow these characters. The novel is definitely not for everyone – I would recommend it to gamers and AJH fans and… that’s about it.

Rita: I really enjoyed Looking for Group. I’m afraid the lengthy chat in the first chapter may be a deterrent for readers without a gaming background so I hope they stick around to see what an adorable and interesting story this is. Drew and Kit are so sweet together that I thought my heart might explode from all the cute, and their private chats were some of my favorite parts. I also feel the supporting characters were written well and they helped back up the reasons why Drew and Kit’s approach to friendships is so different.

El: While I did DNF the book, I can recognize and fully appreciate the way that Alexis shows that online relationships are real. I think that’s an incredibly important message to send out, and one that I truly loved. I think this quote sums it up for me:
[Group][Orcarella]: dont you get lonely

[Group][Solace]: I used to before I met Morag and Ialdir

So while I do think the format was really a struggle to anyone without a gaming background, I think the message within that was one that everyone can love!

Mel: The book is less accessible than I thought and I even struggled a little through some of the longer game sequences. But [Looking For Group is] innovative and unique and [has a] daring writing style . This is the cutest, most adorable story ever. I enjoyed every minute of Drew and Kit. The scenes in and outside the game were funny, intimate, so honest and real, and relatable. Through Drew’s and Kit’s conflict, Alexis opened my eyes concerning some inhibitions I still had concerning my online time/friends and I feel so much more at peace with it now.

Kristie: I think if I’m a gamer of these types of games, a young adult, I’d read this book and give it 5 stars. If I break it down, the writing is perfectly beautiful. The story is the same. It’s not written for me, but I really enjoyed it a lot. I might not go back and read it again, but I really love the meaning behind it. The way the world has changed, so fast in the last 10 years even, has afforded us all to make friends faster and from all over the world. That’s a beautiful thing. Internet friends can become real life friends, but they don’t always need to either.

And, finally, a message from Kristie that sums it up for all of us:

I hope this book finds its way into the hands of a bunch of young people who are looking for their Group. Speaking from experience, finding your own group is life changing. I think you all know that since we’ve found ours.

Genre: contemporary romance
Tags: M/M, gaming (MMO), nerdy

5 stars. I need to explain this. I'm not a nerd or a gamer, so the book was in parts less accessible than I thought beforehand. Some of the longer gaming sequences were a bit of a struggle for me, to be honest. So, based on enjoyment alone this would be a 4.5 star read. But: I have given 5 stars to other books in the past (81 Nightmares, Forest Station) because of the author's innovative, unique, and daring writing style because I reeeeeally appreciate things like this! And while I think Alexis is a bit crazy to write pages and pages of game chat with typos and abbreviations, and descriptions of raids and whatnot, I feel like this is utterly authentic and in a way brilliant. There you have it ;-)

Blog: Group review on Just Love Romance

If you don't know that Alexis is my favourite author, I've been doing something wrong. I'm crazy (literally) about him. I am also so very lucky to be able to call him a friend. So there is that...
I received and ARC in exchange for a review, but I have already pre-ordered the book.
Profile Image for Tamara.
982 reviews30 followers
July 16, 2017
September 19, 2016

I must say I'm really really glad Alexis Hall exists and writes.
Can that man do anything wrong? /fangirling

This book appealed to me in many ways.

First off, if it wasn't already obvious, Alexis Hall is one of my favorite writers. /fangirling

Also, RPG games and fantasy books are almost single-handedly responsible for the first real friends I made in high-school, met over the internetz (and we've been going at it for the last 10 years so I'm pretty sure I hit the jack-pot).
I haven't played WoW (or any MMOs), but I lived and breathed Baldur's Gate for most of my high school days (and I spent the last year playing the Enhanced Edition and a chunk of this year's spring playing the SoD expansion). So you know, I got some of the references (and when Edwin was mentioned I realized he and Bjorn are probably related in some way, and if there was an anthropomorphic personification of SoD I would name it Tinuviel :P ), and I didn't get a lot of the abbreviations and slang, but there's a glossary so I managed :D

What I loved about this book is basically everything. I loved the setting (obviously), I loved the MCs (I could relate to both Drew and Kit in some ways) and the ending was so utterly sweet (I still want more, but I also kinda liked where it was left). Not to mention the writing.
It's a book about finding somewhere you fit in and love being and not letting anyone tell you it's wrong. The fact something happens only in your imagination doesn't make it less real. If you are moved by an emotion, if it touches a part of you in any way, it becomes real at that moment, and if it makes you happy the perception/judgement of others shouldn't ever matter. That's what Drew was learning and what Kit was showing him.

"When you got right down to it, killing imaginary pigs with a bloke who lived on a different continent was no worse or sillier a way to spend your evenings than throwing a piece of plastic around with a bloke who lived down the corridor. The really silly thing was that he’d ever believed there was a difference. As long as you cared about what you were doing and who you were doing it with, then it didn’t matter if you were in a pub or your living room or on a virtual rock in an imaginary kingdom in a video game."

A bit on the morbid side - I have this thing I do when I really love a writer, that is I start planing on stretching his/her books to last me a lifetime. So, when I heard Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's? I basically stopped reading Discworld, because he's gonna stop writing soon because death and then I will have read all of his books and then what am I gonna do the rest of my life without anything new to read written by him? So I pace myself. I realized I started doing the same with Alexis Hall books, and that's why I haven't read this as soon as it got out, even though I had it on pre-order. And also why I stretched it over a few days rather than reading it in one sitting. My point being, Mr. Hall, please please please live long and prosper.


May 12, 2016


Profile Image for Karen Wellsbury.
822 reviews38 followers
September 8, 2016
So, I’m prefacing this review by saying that I read this in June this year, and initially I wasn’t going to post a review for a myriad of reasons, but over the course of the last week it now feels like the right thing to do.
I buddy read this, and I sometimes wonder if buddy reading with someone who thinks similarly to you can create a skewed view, which can be positive or negative, but I have since refreshed my read and the majority of my initial thoughts still stand. I also think that I can separate my thoughts about the author of a book, and their behavior, again whether positive or negative, from my thoughts about the book itself.

I think I’ve read all of Alexis hall’s books, and thoroughly enjoyed them all, Waiting for the Flood is one of my favourite romances. His gift for language, especially in dialogue I really admire, he also used repetition and references other artistic media really well.
And while I have gamed over the years, as I started to read the book I looked at the language in the same way I did when reading the cant in Prosperity: I mean if I can read The Wake I can read anything !

However I found the dialogue clunky, and the layout was off putting, so rather than seeing a group of people, then a couple getting closer when I read it it felt forced , which then affected my impression of Drew and Kit. I waited for some character development and other than Drew recognising that he liked Kit irrespective of his gender for the majority of the book I didn’t see any. I think that one of the reasons NA is so popular is that this is the time where we can make some enormous changes, often away from home/ school/ childhood peers for the first time it can be when we start to develop our real individuality- and I didn’t see that happening here. The relationships actually felt one dimensional and stereotypical for most of the book.

I also felt that the underlying message of online communities and friends being as important and real as corporeal ones was dealt with like a sledgehammer cracking a nut, and I did wonder who the message was aimed at? As I imagine that the majority of people who have read the book feel like this already, and the majority of 19 year olds I know see no difference between the two worlds.

Since reading LfG I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews, from gamers and non gamers alike, and I did wonder if I’d read a different book (hence the re read). So I think that once again I find myself in the minority, and I also think that rather than agreeing with others opinions it was time to voice my own views.
Profile Image for Line.
1,082 reviews177 followers
Shelved as 'not-interested'
May 1, 2018
Maaaan I could not understand more than half of what was going on in the sample:-) I asked the BF to help, and even his nerdy background could not help me *pouting*.
Too bad, I love AH.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,396 reviews123 followers
October 2, 2019
I'm still reading this story, but it already has five stars. As a 10-year veteran of World of Warcraft, I am completely entranced with this book that most assuredly is set in that world. I feel like I'm in game...and quite frankly it has rekindled my interest in the lore and the little details that make WoW so wonderful. I'm not sure I even care if the romance is developed beyond casual. I am completely caught up in someone else's appreciation of tactics, achievements, transmogs, ilvl, artifacts, raid mechanics, mastering your character(s), in-game chat, guild drama, and just all the things I've "lived" since The Burning Crusade. For this alone, Mr. Hall, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I feel like Alexis Hall and I had some secret conversation (And no! I don't know the man at all.) and he wrote this book just for me. And for that, I love it and respect him all the more.

ADD: I failed to mention one of the most important aspects of this story...the friends you make in-game. I've been a member of my guild for most of my gaming life. I consider these people my friends, several very good friends, and have met the guild leader K in real life. They are no less important to me than friends I interact with IRL. After my bike was stolen last year, one I'd never met in person helped me buy my new bike. Folks, gamers are all REAL PEOPLE and make REAL FRIENDS.

Will add another paragraph when I'm finished. :)

FINAL NOTE: All the stars for the story, the romance, and for the author’s unforgettable tribute to gamers everywhere.
Profile Image for Ulysses Dietz.
Author 11 books655 followers
September 3, 2016
In spite of being a 61-year-old non-gamer, I grew to love this book. It's a foreign world for me, this online gaming community, but Hall translated it so that I was embraced in this odd, alien world. Here's my review from All About Romance.

Profile Image for Helena Stone.
Author 31 books122 followers
August 14, 2016
To say this book surprised me would be the understatement of the year. About five pages into the first chapter I was all ‘wtf am I reading?’ and ‘what does any of this mean?’ I was fully convinced this book might turn into my first DNF in ages because I couldn’t imagine getting hooked into a story half of which meant nothing to me. And then I did...get hooked that is.

The thing is, I know nothing about video games, I don’t play them and I’m not even the slightest bit curious about them either. And a lot of the story in this book is all about video games. In fact, about half the story takes place in Heroes of Legend, and therefore in a world I’m totally unfamiliar with. The characters use terms and abbreviations I don’t understand. Initially I felt so far out of my depth that I ended up bookmarking this Wikipedia page: Glossary of Video Game Terms. It proved to be a big help, until I got so caught up in the story that I stopped caring or noticing that there were terms I didn’t understand. Of course, that was before I realised there was a very good Glossary of gaming terms and abbreviations at the end of the book.

The ‘am I gay or what’ issue plays a relatively small role in this story. Sure, it takes Drew some time to get his head around the fact that he’s fallen for a guy, but not very long and he doesn’t obsess about it nor does he get all angsty. No, this story is far more about figuring out what are and what aren’t ‘real’ friendships. Can friendships with people you’ve only ‘met’ online / in game be as real and deep as those with the people you meet face to face? Drew is inclined to think that they can’t, while Kit’s closest relationships appear to be with people he’s never met face to face. Unless Drew can accept that connecting with people is real, whether you do it in the real or in a virtual world, he will lose Kit.

Like I said, I lost myself in this story. I got completely caught up in Drew and Kit getting together and finding a balance between their two different approaches to life. In many ways this was a sweet story with a definite young-adult feel to it. The on page intimacy is sweet and innocent, while growing up, learning to compromise, and accepting yourself as well as others exactly for who they are, were the bigger themes in this book.

I love how this story made me think about the friends I have made online, and how sometimes it’s easier to talk to people I have never met—and may never meet—face to face than it is to open up to friends I meet in real life. In fact, I think that’s the reason this story really worked for me; I completely got both Kit and Drew. I made that journey from ‘online people aren’t really real’ to ‘some of my best and most trusted friends ‘only’ live in my computer’ some time ago. And of course books, for me, always work best when I can truly relate to what’s happening in the story.

I fully expected this to turn into a ‘if you’re not into video games this might not be the book for you’ sorta review but, as you can see, that is not what happened. While it may still be true that there’s too much gaming and too little real life interaction between characters in this book for some readers, I can honestly say that whether or not Drew and Kit were in a game stopped making a difference for me pretty quickly after starting this book.

I’m so glad I took a chance on a book that might not have been for me at all. This sweet, thought-provoking and very well written story fascinated and charmed me so much I couldn’t put the book down until I’d finished it.

On a final note; this is the second book I’ve read by Alexis Hall and the second time he’s managed to blow me away with his story-telling and writing skills. Clearly I need to go back and read his other books as soon as possible.
Profile Image for Ben Howard.
1,019 reviews116 followers
November 16, 2022
To [Solace]: Fancy meeting you here
[Solace] whispers: of all the raid instances in all the MMOs in all the world, you walk into mine
To [Solace]: here's looking at you kit

Looking For Group is a romance between two guys, Drew and Kit, who meet in a video game. I've never read a romance like this before and as someone how plays a lot of games, and used to play WoW which the MMO in this book is based off, it was so cool and even felt a bit nostalgic somehow.

Alexis Hall did such a good job of creating the in game scenes. The way the messaging was formatted, how they talked to each other, and how the raid and MMO world was described was perfect and so fun; it was awesome to experience.

Drew and Kit live in the same city, Leicester, so after they've made the connection in game they decide to meet up IRL. It was honestly so cute how nervous they were when they first met up, and then they got more comfortable around one another.

Drew did get on my nerves with the main conflict of the book, but he got there in the end and he earned my forgiveness with that final scene; it was so sweet!

Kit deserves the world and I will fight anyone who does him wrong. He was definitely the one I related to most.

[Solace] whispers: Hey you
To [Solace]: hey you back
[Solace] whispers: <3
To [Solace]: :)

I really want this book to get the re-release treatment that Glitterland is getting, because it deserves so much more love and attention. I need everyone to read it!

I wish it wasn't a standalone. I want more books that follow the other people in the "Same Crit Different Day" guild. The raiding scenes with everyone gave me so much joy and were so cosy. I feel like Bjorn getting his own book would be hilarious. Also I want to see Drew and Kit again 🥺 🤲

Also this book made me download WoW again and there's a new expac out this month. Blizzard needs to write Alexis a cheque 😂
Profile Image for Megan Erickson.
Author 48 books1,851 followers
Want to read
July 5, 2016
Can't wait to read this because it's been too long since I've read Alexis Hall. And sweet Alexis Hall is my favorite Alexis Hall.

*grabby hands*
Profile Image for La*La.
1,911 reviews43 followers
July 9, 2016
2.75 stars.

 photo tumblr_m7idbfJcFi1ryj6qoo1_500_zpsph17d7zq.gif - <=== Me for 90% of the story.

So, this book should come with a warning.

- if you aren't interested in games (like me);
- don't know anything about online multiplayer gaming (like me);
- are clueless about gaming slang, terms, shortspeak (again, like me)...

Just. Beware.

This book is chock-full of slang, online chat logs, game strategies etc...you have to know gaming to understand all this geeky stuff, and actually be a fan of it to want to read all this in a romance novel.

Naturally, I didn't realize the gaming would be so hardcore here, or I would have thought twice about requesting this book for review. To be honest, I just saw Alexis Hall's name and couldn't press the 'request' button fast enough...

On the positive side, under all the geek-fest, there's actually a pretty sweet YA romance story. No steam, nothing too romance-y, just two boys, coming of age, figuring life out, taking first steps in the relationship... and of course, Alexis Hall's writing is top-notch, so there's that.

I'll chalk this book up to a new experience, and look forward to new stories from my favorite author.

p.s. there turned out to be a glossary of terms at the end (!!!) of the book. I'd finished it by the time I made that discovery, constantly googling, or glossing over the stuff I couldn't find online. *sulks*

**ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.**

Profile Image for Monika K.
164 reviews14 followers
April 18, 2023
4.5 Stars

Okay, this was so sweet and I loved the overall message that internet friends ARE friends. I play some games but never an MMO so I had to learn a few of the terms in the glossary, but once the romance part started I was all in. As someone who chats online extensively, I loved that aspect of the way the MCs communicate. The ending is so so sweet and adorable that I exclaimed, "Oh that's so cute!" when I finished. If you do know the MMO gaming world, this is the book for you. You will love it.
Profile Image for Kelly.
274 reviews181 followers
February 12, 2019
Exceeded every expectation.

Alexis Hall is one of my favourite authors. His Prosperity series is some of the best and weirdest steampunk I’ve ever read. He’s also an avid gamer, so when I heard he had a nerdy gaming book coming out, I pre-ordered.

The title of his new novel is Looking for Group, which is a phrase rife with anticipation. Some of the highlights of my World Of Warcraft and other MMORPG years were finding that perfect group. The team of four or eight (or forty) who seamlessly work together from the first fight to the last and is able to portion out the loot with rationality and respect. There is nothing more satisfying than being part of a perfectly aligned machine, with every cog not only knowing its role, but being confident in it. Even when the fight is more than a statistical gamble and, impossibly, the last surviving party member downs the boss while clinging to 0.001% health.

Then there are the groups that make up the other 95% of the gaming experience. The unbalanced and the ridiculous. The random disconnects, the rogues who think it’s all about DPS, healers who don’t know how to heal, the poorly geared tank, the guy who thinks he’s the only one in the group and so on. Yet, even after yelling at the monitor for thirty minutes to an hour or longer, when the instance fades, you’re queuing back up for another go at it. Why? Well, it’s fun in an oddly delusional way. And, as with any skilled activity, there is the high to be gained from a perfect score. The rush when chance actually works in your favour is very addictive. Or maybe you’re just after the axe that will complete your set, making you the best geared tank on the server.

Drew rage quits his old ‘Heroes Of Legend’ guild, Annihilation, over a failed loot roll for that damned axe and goes looking for a new group to raid with. He finds it in the form of a guild called Same Crit, Different Day. In the company of a more relaxed group, he is able to gain a new perspective on the game he’s been playing for three years. Instead of faffing about on his own, completing dailies, checking auctions, farming whatever he needs for the next raid, raiding, then preparing for the next raid, he’s...fishing. Sitting on the top of a half-submerged ruin at the far end of a zone hardly anyone ever quests in, plunking a virtual rod into virtual water and talking to a guild mate. And it’s fun. The flight there stirred that sense most of us lose after existing in a virtual world for several years: the wow factor as we first marvel at the scope of these maps and quests, appreciation for the love someone put into designing a single cavern or an entire zone, the game mechanics we take for granted and the fact there are real people behind every avatar.

I’m an intrepid gamer, meaning I will sail to the far corner of every map, attempt to scale every peak and usually achieve whatever explorer achievement there is before getting much of anywhere with the main quest. I die a lot. But even after playing a game for months or years, I never lose that sense of wonder. I still snap screen shots of everything: the view from the top of that impossible peak or super rare shield I found buried at the end of the world. I also used to win the fishing contest on my WoW server every week. I had more Arcanite Fishing Poles than I knew what to do with.

Drew finds more than a new enthusiasm for ‘Heroes Of Legend’. He’s making new friends and maybe falling for the sassy elf who keeps inviting him fishing. As he spends more time on-line, however, his university friends begin to worry he’s losing his perspective on how the real world operates. There’s also the question of who is behind the avatar. Is the sassy elf girl actually played by a girl or a middle-aged man with a wife and two kids?

Here, Alexis Hall plays with the questions and answers that aren’t as unique to the current generation or two as they might think. Do the people we meet on-line count as real friends? Can we fall in love with someone we’ve never met? What happens when the face behind the avatar isn’t quite what we expected? Is there a need for balance between virtual and real world endeavours or has this new world, the one all of our children seem slavishly devoted to, a boon for those of us who might not have been able to make as many friends otherwise? The shy and socially awkward. The nerds.

I met my husband playing an on-line role playing game. For the first few months of our friendship, he was an evil, winged horse and I a not-quite-innocent spy for a not-quite-good king. He was our nemesis and we were plotting to steal his kingdom. You can’t put that much time into building stories with someone while pretending to be otherworldly creatures and not get to know them...sometimes very well. About half of my friends are people I’ve never met or people I originally met farming primals in Azshara. So I get the whole on-line friendship thing. I know that behind every avatar is another human being, many of them as anxious about the face they’re showing the world, however disguised, as I am. I know that attraction can form out of something that’s not physical.

On the other hand, I’m a parent and worry about the time my daughter spends with her on-line friends. A part of me thinks she should be socialising more in the ‘real world’. Then I hear her laughing and sharing stories about her day. I hear her arguing with three other kids about the rules for their ‘Steven Universe’ role play. They show their art to each other and talk about their college choices. They exchange recipes. They listen to one another when someone needs an ear. They’re…friends. Good friends. When my daughter is old enough to travel on her own, she’ll have someone to visit in California, England and France. They’re like pen pals, only mostly more reliable. They’re like distant cousins who only know one another through letters. They are random instances of friendship and people who have chosen to be together.

So, back to the book. This is a review, after all. The sassy elf is not played by a girl. She is not she played by a middle-aged man. She’s played by a guy about Drew’s age who is attending a neighbouring university. It’s a surprise, definitely. But what Drew does about it forms another of my favourite bits in the book. (There aren’t actually any bits I didn’t like, except maybe that the story comes to an end and the intense craving to sign back into WoW after a six year hiatus.)

Drew is shocked at first. Hurt and feeling a little betrayed or played. After a time, however, and some advice from his friends, he has to admit he knew this would be a possibility. Yet he forged ahead anyway. He flirted. He invited the friendship and more. What I love about his attitude is not only the tolerance factor and the fact Drew is open to exploring his sexuality, but the transparency of his thoughts here. That, while he feels a bit weird falling for a guy, he admits he might have known what he was doing all along.

That’s an important part of friendships that form on-line. The fact you might be fooled. It’s no different from the way we form friendships off-line, however. People often cannot be taken at face value. Drew already knows the player of this elf better than he might have had he picked him up in a bar. They’ve already shared a significant amount of time together. They’ve clicked.

After that, the story veers into the figuring out the relationship territory, but never loses focus on the main event, which is Drew figuring out himself. Along the way, Same Crit, Different Day completes several raids, and reading about them is a lot of fun. I remembered the excitement of doing a dungeon with a group of friends. The highs and the lows. The story also includes evenings with uni-friends spent arguing over board games, and a twenty-four hour ‘Batman’ movie marathon. Seriously, this was like reading my life in a book, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I understood all the lingo and had a ready argument for every gaming conversation. In fact, I hadn’t realised how much of a gamer geek I really was until I kept getting the jokes.

If you’re not a gamer, this book might lose you on the first page. There are a lot of chat logs and gaming references that might only make sense to someone who has played an MMO. For me, these blended seamlessly with the story. They were an integral part and definitely gave the feel of being in the game or at least experiencing life right alongside Drew. The romance aspect is very sweet and mostly innocent as this is not a sexy book, which fits the theme perfectly. The story is about more than who you might meet on-line. It’s about how these experiences are now a part of our lives. More, though, the book is about the love of the game. All games. About the people who love the game and why games are so important to us. Highly recommended.

Reviewed for SFCrowsnest.
Profile Image for Fenriz Angelo.
425 reviews29 followers
September 4, 2016
I feel i need to tell where i come from before explaining what i loved about this book because reasons, so let's see...P, K and I first met in Gaia Online on a latin forum and we basically only interacted via threads and random topics, when Gaia started to loose its appeal P suggested we could join him in WoW WotLK, K and I agreed because the game sounded interesting so one day we got the game and created our characters in the server P was. However, P was lvl 70-something and barely logged in so K and I played our separate ways but one day we decided to lvl up in the same zone and after that we lvl up together up to lvl 70. In the meanwhile we joked about some monsters, the lore of some quests, we killed other players in Battlegrounds or were victims of enless hours of ganking (when enemy players of a very high lvl kill players of lower levels like a lvl 80 vs a lvl 20) and sometimes when we got bored of questing we just sit in front of fire in the capital city and started to talk about our everyday life.

That's how we started to bond, I started to play WoW when i was in a pretty sad state of my life, i felt lonely irl and due to a lot of problems i ended kind of isolated, no friends, no family to rely on, and dealing with the breakup of an abusive relationship i wasn't aware it was back then so when *we broke* i was pretty depressed. One night i told K i was sad, i told him why, he listened and told me he understood the breakup part bc he was going through one himself. After that we became more close and chatted a lot. On our way through lvl 70-80 we met A, L and Y. Y was the leader of a guild and she invited us to join in, we accepted and when we were lvl 80 we started to dedicate our weekends to raiding Ice Crown Citadel, then Cataclysm expansion happened, etc. Basically WoW was the highlight of my day and i just wanted to log in to play and interact with the guild. After 3-4 years there many of us had to leave for different reasons nevertheless we interacted with each other via Facebook, and still do.

So here's Looking For Group, a book about this type of experience in a MMO. I'm still in awe of the authenticity described in the development of a friendship through a WoW-like game, how ppl enjoy said game in different ways and the focus on the raiding which is basically 80% of your time in game when you're the max lvl, in my opinion it was perfect, i cannot imagine another way to tell a story like this one if it's not via the chat window of the game, if you tried to develop the characters in other way it could fail to be the book for gamers Hall says it is. The journey is Drew's alone and his voice seemed like one of a 19 years old, in his POV we get to know bits of the people he interacts with and Kit. I really liked Kit and I felt identified a lot with him, the way he plays HoL and specially when he says he've always had older friends bc ppl his age *doesn't get him*, also nowadays I kind of live by his motto. It was a surprise how much i enjoyed this book and i got emotional in the end because it reminded me on how i met one of the closest friends i have.

It's a pretty easy to read book, the game references and WoW jokes where so on point i just lol'ed a lot, the romance is cute, and the pace of the plot was smooth enough to devour the book in no time.

I hope more queer young gamers find this book because it's pretty much for us :)
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 76 books2,536 followers
September 11, 2017
This book spends a fair bit of its time immersed pretty deeply into RPGs (Role Playing Games.) Since the closest I've come to RPGs is watching my family members play Oblivion, and since I also insist on being able to read a book from context, without looking stuff up on the fly, this story and I were a bit of a mismatch. But I love Alexis Hall's writing, so I went for it.

It worked. Just.

If you're a game-player, I think this story might be smooth sailing. I did enjoy watching a guy who prided himself on his game-to-real-life balance, falling for another guy he met first as an elf maiden in a game. For me, appreciating it took not insisting on deciphering every part of the game play, and mining the story out from around those details. For others, the details are no doubt part of the charm. This is a sweet, no-sex story about falling for who someone is inside, not outside. About how and when to draw distinctions between friends you talk to in life and friends you chat with online. Or not. I enjoyed Drew's good hearted fumbling toward romance, and Kit's shy self-awareness.

There is a glossary at the end of the book. Those who don't do RPGs and want a head start, would probably benefit from checking it out first. But it's not essential IMO (as long as you realize what text speech is private (eg "whispers" and "to") and what is open to the group.) This could be a fun read for YA as it reflects social interactions and an openness to sexuality that feels very realistic for many of my kids' generation, and different from my own of decades ago. Sweet, nerdy, fun and different.
August 3, 2016
***3.5 Hero & Legend Stars***

Ok, so lemme just say...this was a cute, fun, nerdy, geeky read.

I'm huge, huge Alexis Hall fan....and I can't wait to get my grubby hands on one of his books.

But Looking For Group, didn't quite work for me, and it was purely the gaming aspect of the story, the writing as always with Alexis is fantastic, original and refreshening.

Profile Image for Claudie ☾.
547 reviews139 followers
July 5, 2022
I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a story that was just so damn SWEET it had me smiling & giggling almost constantly, which didn’t also make me want to puke from cuteness overload, but somehow AH pulled it off!! 💃


It probably helped that once upon a time I used to spend hours, pretty much daily, running around PWI as a venomancer (I had a cleric alt, too 🤭), so I knew the lingo. 🤣 I can’t really see anyone not in the loop enjoying it even half as much as players (or ex-players…), though, even if including a glossary was super considerate.

I loved Drew and Kit, and while I wouldn’t have minded more romance, I didn’t mind one bit that AH kept it PG-rated here. It somehow fit.

Ah, this actually made me feel nostalgic, in a good way… 😭 I can see myself rereading it in a couple of years and liking it just as much the second time around. ❤️
Profile Image for Ije the Devourer of Books.
1,737 reviews54 followers
July 31, 2016

3.5 Stars

This story reminds me of my comic book club. When we meet, we spend the first part of the evening discussing the graphic novel/comic book for that month. When that discussion winds down the guys (and it is just the guys) start discussing what games they are currently playing.

Characters, kingdoms, quests, powers, levels, games etc etc. The conversation becomes quite intense and yet animated and I am intrigued but totally lost. I just sit and listen. I enjoy the banter but I have no idea what they are talking about. I just quietly sit down and enjoy the gamer passion.

I had the same experience with this book. In and amongst all the gamer chat is a really nice story and a gentle but emerging romance but there is much here that both intrigues me and loses me.

Drew decides to join a new gaming group. His last group took all the fun out of playing but this group reminds him that gaming is for fun. As he gets to know people he meets Solace a fine looking lady elf. He hangs out in the game world with Solace and begins to feel a certain attraction for her but when he realises Solace is a guy his budding relationship is derailed or is it?

Drew has only ever dated women before but he is deeply attracted to Solace who he eventually learns is actually called Kit. And so Kit and Drew emerge from their online community and start a relationship together but this isn't without lumps and bumps as they try to balance friends, guilds, online and offline time and an emerging love.

This is a good story but I thought it was a bit too long in its descriptions of the game activity and a bit too short on the romance and relationship. I did like the way it does something new and I intrigued by the world of online gaming and guilds etc etc

In summary, a good story, a bit boring for me in places but on the whole a pleasant read.

Copy provided by Riptide Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Kristie.
1,170 reviews72 followers
August 25, 2016
So, I read this with my group, and this is our review... or chunks and pieces from the discussion we had.

For me, seriously, I can not express how much I want this book to fall into the hands of young people. This is a book for them.

I wish that everyone could find their Group. I've found my own and I could not be happier about it.

Profile Image for Darla.
282 reviews35 followers
May 18, 2016
I loved this super nerdy, super sweet story of love among MMO and IRL intersections and spaces. Superb writing!
Profile Image for Annie ~ Queer Books Unbound.
357 reviews54 followers
July 12, 2016
Reviewed for From Top to Bottom Reviews.

4.5 stars rounded up

This review is a bit different from my usual reviews because I reviewed it together with Laura and w thought an interview kind of review would be best. You can also find the full review on the blog. :)

*We each got an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Hello, readers! Annie and Laura here. We think it's fair to warn you that this review will be a bit different from what you're used to from us. We both are big fans of Alexis writing, and when we both requested the ARC of Looking for Group we really had no idea how we were going to review it. In the end we thought that doing two separate reviews for it would be a bit tiring for you readers, so we decided to set up an interview for ourselves. We'll be answering some questions and we hope this will give you an idea of what we thought of the book. /whisper: we both loved it.

Q1: Was the book as good as you expected?

L: I really think "as good as expected" doesn't begin to cover it. I mean, I really expected it to be good, since it's a book by Alexis and it's also nerdy, but it was even better than that.

A: I expected to be swept away. To completely fall in love with the protagonists and their story while also getting to satisfy my inner-nerd. And I think Looking for Group did that and then some. It was a bit different than I had expected but a good-different not a bad-different. And I wish there were more books like this. Although I'm not sure if just anyone could pull it off or if it takes an Alexis Hall for that. ;)
Profile Image for Becs.
125 reviews6 followers
April 16, 2023
A very sweet, funny, and tender book about friendships, community, and love. And it was especially poignant and meaningful for me to read now as I have spent a large amount of time building friendships and community online in a way I never imagined pre-2020.

The book is proudly geeky and has excellent game world building that can be intimidating at first, but even as a complete noob gamer I found immersive and engaging. And I love the text format of the chats, and DMs. And as an aforementioned noob, I greatly appreciated the handy glossary at the back of the book.

I want to read it again immediately.

And these moments:
Drew & Kit fishing 🥹
Kit’s Pride and Prejudice reference
To all the friends I haven’t met 🥹
Profile Image for Kira.
320 reviews17 followers
September 15, 2016
Guys, I can hardly believe it myself, but it seems I actually... liked this book. Even though I was fully prepared that I won't. I mean, the excerpt at Riptide site was overwhelming, the debates and blog posts surrounding the release of this book - kind of discouraging. Furthermore, some reviews and author himself wrote things like "this book is probably not for you if you don't know the meaning of *this long list of acronyms*", of which I knew maybe one or two. My entire gaming experience basically consists of these three single player strategies back in the nineties, and I wasn't particularly good at any of them. I haven't played a second of MMO in my life.

But! One of my current jobs is connected to MMORPGs, so I'm not completely clueless. To give you some frame of reference, I got right away that "crit" in "Same Crit Different Day" (that's the name of the guild Drew joins at the beginning) doesn't mean critique, but I have no idea, still, what "Soz, was just pugging BL" means. Since I happen to like Alexis Hall's books, I decided to read this one anyway, if only as some kind of test of my knowledge.

And wonder of wonders, the book didn't suck. I might've even stealthily read it at work because I was too impatient to wait for my usual commute reading break. It reminded me of a time when my English was less fluent and I read books by partly understanding the precise meaning of some words and partly by connecting to the Matrix and downloading the overall meaning of a sentence (or a paragraph, or a conversation) directly to my more visual part of brain. :)
Reading about raids here actually turned out to be more fun and more understandable for me than reading about American football or baseball matches in any of sports romances (especially when I figured what DPS means some time in chapter two :)). Just like reading in-game chats (group chats and convos between Drew and Kit both) was, for me, more interesting than a typical scene of characters bonding in a romance novel - when they eat something and watch and/or comment and joke about a movie I've never seen or reference songs I've never heard...

Also, maybe you know how a book would try to replicate, say, a conversation on a forum, and it looks a bit fakey because you've been on enough forums to know that people actually don't talk like that or have nicknames like that and so on. Well, here I never got that sense of fakeness even though about 70% of a book is written in a form of chat logs. Probably because I'm just not in the know. Or maybe Alexis is just that good. Anyway, it seemed like authentic experience for me, and I enjoyed it immensely.

My main complaint is actually not the amount of gaming stuff but a premature ending. It wasn't completely abrupt but still felt like "end of part one" or some such. I didn't feel deprived of romance (it was very sweet and blossomed so naturally), but I thought there was just too much non-utilized room for growth in that department.
And there was Tinuviel (that's her real name, courtesy of hippie parents) who is like an embodiment of obnoxious tumblr blogs of social justice warriors. She is an annoying mouthpiece of a side character, but at least I had a feeling that it was done intentionally ironic, not completely serious like you sometimes see in other books. Still - mini-lectures full of pretentious terms got old quite fast.

Other than that, I'm mostly relieved that, despite all signs to the contrary, a new book of one of my favorite authors wasn't a disappointment.
Profile Image for Alison.
771 reviews29 followers
August 2, 2022
So lovely and so wonderfully different (like all of Alexis Hall's books). I loved this. I'm not into gaming, but I'm a huge nerd and I absolutely loved the heart of this book and what this book was really about. It's a gentle romance that takes place almost entirely in an online game world and it's also a celebration of online communities and online friendships and how important they both are. This is super nerdy (like, seriously nerdy) and it's unconventional and it's probably not going to appeal to everyone. Do read the sample if you're not sure, because if the first chapter does not appeal, it's quite possible the rest of the book won't appeal either. The romance is charming and tentative and features hand-holding and picnicking and blushing and lots of chatting online and playing games online and quite a lot of not being in the same room together and it's lovely and quiet and delightful. There are some fairly long, detailed passages of actual game play with little dialogue, which didn't mean a lot to me probably because I'm not a gamer, but they didn't detract from the story. There is a lovely glossary at the back that's useful to read first if you're worried about not understanding game terms, but I found it all pretty much made sense in context. It's wonderfully funny and poignant and smart and moving and beautifully written and very relatable--all the usual Alexis Hall brilliance. The characters are delightful and flawed and they make mistakes and move forward and it's all very human and very recognisable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It's unique and refreshing and I wish there were more books like this.

Profile Image for Rachel.
344 reviews5 followers
August 25, 2016
I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this book and I immediately abandoned everything else in order to read it.

This was such a delightful, poignant and lovely story! Everything Alexis Hall writes is golden and this was no exception. It is a love story for the internet, for the friends and connections we make there, for gamers and gaming and for knowing who you are and what you love. I was so deeply touched by the credit and respect it pays to the friendships and deeper connections that can form in an online setting. It looks at the stigma, the naysayers and the reasons why we shouldn't pay them any mind. Just because a bond forms online, doesn't make it any less real. I have made some of the best friends of my life because of online connections.

Kit and Drew are adorable. Their relationship is cute, sweet and very realistic. Especially the issues they face and the arguments they have. I just want to squish them both to my bosom and never let go. The supporting characters, Drew's college friends and Kit's guild friends are all wonderful and I really wouldn't mind seeing some of their stories down the line. They each added something to the story and enriched it further.

The format and the lingo may be difficult for some people to follow, but in my opinion, it really added to the story. I loved the way it was formatted and the fact that it was truly a gamers paradise (and I say this as a VERY casual gamer). There is a glossary that explains all of the terms, which was a very nice touch.

Once again I find myself gushing and heart eyes and <3 over a book by Hall. A phenomenon I don't see changing any time soon.
Profile Image for Allison.
1,562 reviews10 followers
August 30, 2016
I'm not a gamer, at least not an MMO gamer, and I didn't understand a lot of the terminology **glossary at the end of the book** (although I did have some basic understanding), and I'm equally sure I missed most of the in jokes.

You know what? None of that mattered to me. I fell in love with the characters and their world(s) regardless. The sweetness of two young people finding someone to care about is the core of the story. Finding that person online, in a game, and the validation of the relationships that are formed online is also at the core of this book. All of that is overlaid with the World of the Game which I, a noob, as I'm sure I would be classified if not worse, also fell in love with.

As always, Alexis Hall weaves a story that is beautiful and that amazes me. There are few authors that choose to write such far ranging types of books, and fewer still that do it well, but he does it with exceptional skill.
Profile Image for Blandrea.
157 reviews3 followers
August 7, 2022
I have wanted to read this book for a while and now seemed like a good time.... in a context where we have experienced most of our connections online for the last few years and readjusting to whatever the new normal is supposed to be, it seemed timely.

Classic Alexis Hall exploration of identity, friendship and connections.

One thing that stood out to me: there will always be a friend who is a jerk. You know that they care about you, but they will still manage to tease you or hurt you or make you feel undermined. Yes, Sanee, I'm looking at you. What's interesting here is the juxtaposition between the "real freinds" who are IRL friends and are quite mean at times, and the "not real" online friends, who vary in ages and geographic location but are legitimately available and supportive of each other.

It's worth thinking about meaningful connections in the context of increasingly digital worlds, and how we decide who counts as a "real" friend.
Profile Image for Xan.
619 reviews274 followers
May 22, 2020
Not going to write a full review right now but wanted to say that this was a comfort reread and totally hit the spot. It's an incredibly geeky very very NA sweet romance (in both the feeling and the no-sex-on-the-page way). The MC makes a ton of mistakes and I like that he is flawed and doesn't get how he is messing things up til he has. I especially like how meditative the gameplay is to read, it felt like this lovely slide into the kind of detail that makes me happy.

Trigger Warnings
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