Sunday 27 January 2013

Book Review: LARP: The Battle for Verona...

By Justin Calderone.

Dennis is a larper and he’s been a larper ever since he stood up for two of the unpopular kids at school. That decision sealed Dennis’ fate as one of the losers and lost him the protection and status having a football star brother had gained him. Dennis is still friends with those same two kids, still larping and still being mocked by his brother and everyone like him. And it’s not fair. He’s a professional success, intelligent and there’s far more to him than larping.

Dennis has reached a point where he feels trapped. Trapped by the life he is leading and trapped by the decision he made all those years ago. What ifs plague him. What if he had not saved them from the bullies? What if he had not taken up larping? What if he had listened to his brother? Perhaps the life he is living is not the one he is supposed to be living. And with that, Dennis decides that this weekend’s larping tournament will be his last. Unfortunately when crisis hits his hometown it looks as though Dennis won’t be able to turn away from larping just yet.

The book begins very much with Dennis in focus, but the roaming point of view that is used throughout is occasionally confusing, as it switches frequently mid-chapter and mid-scene. In fact there is a section in the latter part of the book where one of Dennis’ friends becomes the main focus of the story, and that means Dennis, who has been the hero of the story up to this point, takes a back seat for a considerable period, which feels slightly out of kilter with the rest of the narrative.

What is interesting is that when the main crisis of the story begins, Dennis and his friends are not immediately plunged into the centre of events, which makes for a refreshing angle on the ‘save the world’ adventure story. Much of the book is unpredictable which also works in its favour.

This is definitely a feel good book for all those who were mocked and called a nerd during their younger years. LARP fans will be thrilled at the level of detail and realism that Calderone captures. This is the kind of story where it is necessary to suspend belief and just go with it, but if you do you will find yourself enjoying a light-hearted and fun read. Pure escapism. 

Elloise Hopkins.

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