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.
In this utterly charming romance between two 19-year-old university students, Hall's (For Real) convincing worldbuilding invites the reader into an immersive gaming experience (glossary included for the uninitiated). Drew and Kit's avatars, Orcarella and Solace, meet in a multiplayer online game, Heroes of Legend. In virtual conversations, which allow simultaneous group chat and private asides, Hall captures the sparks, miscommunications, and wide-ranging emotions between the two as they develop a genuine mutual attraction in a simulated realm. For example, when Drew realizes that the feminine Solace's creator is male: " whispers: Um, are you okay?.../ To : not really no/ whispers: um... you thought I was a girl, didn't you?..../ To : don't want to talk about this." Accepting that he likes a boy comes easier to Drew than facing the challenges of negotiating their relationship in parallel worlds. Complicated questions include whether they spend time together in person or online, and who they spend time with: Drew's fellow university students or Kit's guildmates, whom he knows only through online interactions but considers his closest friends. Hall's intriguing combination of philosophical contemplation, gaming, and awkward-sweet seduction produces a compelling love story with numerous laugh-out-loud moments and a final act that will thrill any connoisseur of romantic heroes' groveling apologies.