Post-High School Reality Quest
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Genre: Young Adult
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.
One of the best things I’ve discovered on Twitter this year is Meg Eden (@ConfusedNarwhal) and her book Post-High School Reality Quest. Being a big fan of video games, I was intrigued when I saw the premise of this book: At her high school graduation, Buffy finds that her life has started being narrated/controlled by a text parser in the style of an old school text based video game. This leads to some weird experiences. She dies, comes back to life, makes extreme choices, and more over and over again while trying to figure out not only what this voice in her head is, but what is life now that she’s supposed to be growing up and going to college?
Meg Eden has a way with dark humor and that certainly shows throughout the book. Buffy is having a hard time of it because not only does she have all these experiences going on, she’s got the text parser bringing her back to life after major episodes, which sounds traumatic. While reading it’s such an adventure, trying to tell what’s real and what might not be real.
Mixed in with the days that are dated for us as being in Buffy’s college semester are episodes from the future in which she’s in a doctor’s office (her words, because the text parser says psychiatrist, which she thinks is judgmental). This method of storytelling, going back and forth, was a little confusing at first, but after a couple of chapters I got into it and was really just trying to figure the characters out. What did they mean to Buffy, were they part of this “text game”, just what was going on? Real life, it seemed, was intangible at times and at others all too real. That feeling made the reading so strange and so tragic at the same time with certain passages and, particularly, when trying to decide how I felt about the ending.
The formatting of the book was pretty cool too, as it wasn’t set up like a normal book with the words of the text parser relegated to italics or something. I haven’t played a text game or RPG in awhile, but this book brought back the feeling of one and that made me quite happy. It’s an intriguing setup and definitely an effective one in relaying Buffy’s story to the reader.
One of the best things about this book, other than the neat format, is the fact that the author managed to write so many lines that I wanted to quote back to someone as I was reading. I even got out some sticky note tabs so that I could share my favorites in my review, so see below for which lines made my list.
I’m sorry. I don’t understand “I don’t like this story.” You think we get to choose our stories?
- In middle school, you nicknamed your backpack “inventory”. You thought it sounded clever.
You are now dead. Thank you for playing POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST! Would you like to load a saved game?
I will win something, eventually.
I’m sorry, I don’t understand “restart game.” You think it’s that easy, to get a fresh start?
“They’re not something you grow out of,” you say. “You think people grow out of books.”
“If it’s not about ‘undoing’ or ‘redoing’, then what’s the point of save slots? What was the point of any of this?
“…they give this false hope that you can go back and retry something. And sometimes, I did get to retry stuff..
…In the end, it’s just like normal life, that I can’t control anything.”
- 1 copy of POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST by Meg Eden
- Book Swag (see picture)
- U.S. Only
- Ends June 20th
I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.