Looking for Group (Vallie’s Review)

looking for group
Title: Looking for Group
Author: Alexis Hall
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: August 29, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 341
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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.

Awww this was adorable!

I really liked how the book dealt with the modern theme of online relationships and the struggles involved while keeping it mostly light and funny. The first 12% of this story is straight up live gaming. It’s like sitting next to someone doing it and reading the live stream of chat along with combat unfolding. I’ll admit. All the chat-speak, especially because it was mostly about strategy and game-related jargon, was over my head. It was a little too much. But by the end of the book, I realised that it was completely necessary because the online gaming part of the book was not meant as a catalyst for Drew and Kit to meet and then do away with. They are gamers. It’s who they are. So it was important to see what exactly that means. It bothers me when there is telling in a book so it was nice to be shown this so well, especially because I don’t know anything about it.

I really liked how slowly Drew and Kit became closer. The whole ”omg, Solace is a guy!” thing was dealt with swiftly and with a reasonable amount of angst. But Drew is such a cool character and his friends, while weird, are awesome too, so they helped him figure it out. Kit is also very sweet. He is such an unassuming, quiet person, except when it comes to gaming, and then it’s all systems go.

Their relationship unfolds both in real life and online. They have real life dates and online dates. They talk in person and they chat on Hol. And you know what amazed me? It did not make a difference whether they were being all couply in real life or on the game. It did not matter if they were fighting or making up through chat or in Kit’s room. It was all so romantic and sweet, that I just kept smiling through it. They deal with some real issues but they are honest with each other. Drew is worried about how much time Kit wants to be on Hol and Kit is worried that Drew wants to change him. But they really really really like each other and want to be together so they find ways to work through their issues.

Why not five stars?

• There is too much gaming. I think I could have gotten the picture with a few pages worth of game speak, especially during times when it wasn’t even between Kit and Drew.
• There are kisses on page, but anything else is fade to black. The writing was very discreet about anything sexual so I’m not even sure what they did. Considering that Drew was attracted to a guy for the first time, and seemed to have no issues delving into the relationship full on, it would have been nice to have something more explicit on page.
• They never really got to the love stage. The ending was a strong HFN with both of them saying they really like each other.
• No epilogue, although the grand gesture at the end made my cheeks hurt from smiling!

Final verdict:
This was just really adorable. There’s a cloud of tenderness above Drew and Kit and it comes off in the way they interact, making this a very sweet, romantic story. But if you are easily bored reading about gaming, I think you’ll struggle with this. It takes over the story, especially for the first 60% or so, and it’s not a short book. If you do like it, you’re in for a treat. I wasn’t expecting something like this from this author, but I shouldn’t really be surprised at this point. The writing was excellent, as always, and matching the characters’ actions perfectly, even the game-speak. But what got me the most, was the pure simplicity of a boy liking a boy and showing him in the ways he knows best –whether that’s a virtual hug or an actual cuddle.


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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Looking for Group provided by Riptide Publishing in exchange of an honest review.