Post-High School Reality Quest
by Meg Eden
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Genre: Young Adult
Buffy is playing a game. However, the game is her life, and there are no instructions or cheat codes on how to win. After graduating high school, a voice called “the text parser” emerges in Buffy’s head, narrating her life as a classic text adventure game. Buffy figures this is just a manifestation of her shy, awkward, nerdy nature—until the voice doesn’t go away, and instead begins to dominate her thoughts, telling her how to life her life. Though Buffy tries to beat the game, crash it, and even restart it, it becomes clear that this game
is not something she can simply “shut off” or beat without the text parser’s help.
While the text parser tries to give Buffy advice on how “to win the game,” Buffy decides to pursue her own game-plan: start over, make new friends, and win her long-time crush Tristan’s heart. But even when Buffy gets the guy of her dreams, the game doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets worse than she could’ve ever imagined: her crumbling group of friends fall apart, her roommate turns against her, and Buffy finds herself trying to survive in a game built off her greatest nightmares.
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).
(This review may contain spoilers).
When I originally read the blurb of this book, I was immediately intrigued by the concept. The second person perspective did take a bit of getting used to, though. There were a couple of times I found myself almost linking to Buffy, but in a way, I felt that she was more of a one-dimensional character. Even the things she liked weren’t really expanded upon. The possible exception was her playing the video games, but that happened very rarely.
I did find the supporting characters to be more interesting, especially Sephora. I thought it was interesting to see how her friends had problems that Buffy was unaware of. I did like Tristan as a character, but I couldn’t really see what Buffy saw in him. In a way, it was like she’d built him up in her mind, and therefore in my mind as a reader… and he just didn’t live up to that expectation.
I did like seeing the interactions between Buffy and the ‘text parser’, but although some of the footnotes amused me, I found it a bit harder to get the jokes, as I kept missing where the footnotes were in the narration.
I did also find it hard to differentiate between Buffy’s roommates. There wasn’t a whole lot of depth to them, as all they seemed to be doing was partying and I didn’t even know what they were studying. And I would have liked some more details about Jeremy and Alice, as the book kept providing conflicting views of what was really going on between them.
I felt there were times the book didn’t really follow its own logic. For instance, there were saves and resets that it wasn’t clear if it was in Buffy’s head, or if reality was just resestting. And I was a bit disappointed to see that the scenes in the psychiatric hospital didn’t really seem to go anywhere. I wasn’t sure at what point they were supposed to be.
Up until the ending, I’d thought this book was one genre in particular and I found the ending to be somewhat more confusing. I did find this book easy and quick to read, though, and the idea was a really unique one. I wouldn’t read it again, but it was entertaining to read the first time.
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About The Author
Meg Eden’s work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, and Gargoyle. She teaches at the University of Maryland. She has four poetry chapbooks, and her novel “Post-High School Reality Quest” is forthcoming from California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird Lit. Check out her work at: http://www.megedenbooks.com
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