An online gamer’s talents vault him to pro level in this well-crafted…debut. By dint of focused dedication to his chosen fantasy game, Starfare, teen math prodigy Seth wrangles entry into a national competition with a $30,000 prize. He doesn’t win—but to his amazement, his innovative play earns an invitation to join one of the world’s top professional teams in South Korea, where gaming is a big-bucks sport. IM and Skype notwithstanding, that’s a very long way from home and girlfriend Hannah. Readers will find Seth an unusually vivid protagonist. Instead of just announcing Seth is a whiz at gaming and math, Tabak repeatedly puts him in the “zone,” implementing strategic and tactical maneuvers in hot game action, and at other times eagerly digging into calculus and inventing algorithms. In contrast to his hostile South Korean teammates, Seth is a good guy: humble in his hard-won successes but not a wimp. Ultimately, loneliness, culture shock, and a scholarship draw him back home, where a final pleasant surprise involving Hannah’s college plans awaits. It’s always satisfying to see a smart and likable character “level up.”
Lawrence Tabak is a widely published magazine writer who is currently focused on writing fiction for young adults. He is the father of two boys. He has worked as a tennis teaching professional, a executive at the United States Tennis Association, and in corporate communications postions in the financial services industry. His essays and feature stories have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the in-flight magazines for TWA, United, American and Continental; Fast Company, Tennis Magazine, Salon.com, and The Atlantic Monthly.