Friday, January 10, 2020

Book Review: 'On a LARP' by Stefani Deoul

Bicoastal television producer and writer Stefani Deoul goes were her talent is needed – the East Coast where she lives near New York, the West Coast and Canada writing and producing for television. Her first novel was THE CAROUSEL and now she offers us ON A LARP while also continuing writing short stories for numerous publications. She has produced The Dead Zone, Brave New Girl along with being the executive in charge of production for the series Dresden Files and Missing. Stefani is currently in Nova Scotia producing the new series Haven for the SyFy network.

After reading ON A LARP and being introduced to Stefani lesbian teen coder Sid Rubin and noting that this appears to be the opener for a series, we can only hope that we hear more about this fascinating heroine. The book embraces gender inequality, the world of high tech, and (in this book) LARP – which happens to stand for Live Action Role Playing.

The decades long major gender diversity gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (hopefully everyone has seen HIHDDEN FIGURES on film!) shows that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer related jobs in the US and women are on track to fill only 3 % of them (this from the well written PR for the book). It is the aim of Sid Rubin a mouthy brilliant high school kid with a strong conscience and a knack for solving problems to alter that prediction. Or as the synopsis poses, the story deals with the ‘world of interactive role-playing when Sid recognizes the photo of a murder victim during an AP field trip to a police station. What starts out as an Aha! moment soon finds Sid and her unlikely posse of friends chasing a dark web killer through the middle of a live action role playing game. Sid and the gang work to unravel a deeply encrypted mystery while simultaneously enduring pop quizzes, endless Ted Talks, teenage heartbreak, suspicious parents, cosplay, and the irresistible lure of the NYC Public Library.’

Or as we read in the Prologue, ‘According to a study I read on the Internet, by the National Institute of mental Health, the brain is not fully developed until a person is – get this! – in his or her twenties. The parts of the brain that control emotional behavior have not yet matured in teens, and “such a changing balance might provide clues to a youthful appetite for novelty, and a tendency to act on impulse – without regard for the risk.”…As the frontal lobe is one of the last parts of the brain to develop, and IN TH ETEENAGE BRAIN, IT’S NOT REALLY FIRING AT ALL, it is therefore physiologically harder for a teen to completely understand the future consequences of his (or her – as this case may be) emotional or impulsive actions.’

Mix that level of erudite writing with the mystery at hand and Stefani Deoul has started something very important! A fine new opener for an exciting series. Grady Harp, March 17
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.