Player vs Player by Amelia C. Gormley ~ Book Review by Lirtle

player vs player cover 1 Title: Player vs Player

Author: Amelia C. Gormley

Publisher: Riptide

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars


Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.


As I started reading, I had that settling in feeling I usually get from Gormley’s writing. It feels like an invitation to engage no matter the setting or subject matter.

I’m not a gamer, don’t do cosplay, and the last time I was really into comics, it was all about Star Wars and GI Joe. In other words, the detail about the world of gaming was sufficient without reaching a level at which I couldn’t understand what was going on. Context was used well in making that possible. Fair warning, though, there is gamer speak.

This starts off a little heavy handed (and highly relevant), even flirting with crossing the line into overly politically correct. Then I felt that click during a convo between a group of the characters and I got hooked in, curiosity poked.

Some of that curiosity is swiftly doused, however, as this story occasionally suffers from a case of the too obvious. Some of these characters have known each other a long time. This should lend itself to the less obvious but instead I felt like not much was left unsaid or explained. This is especially true when presenting a story through multiple points of view, which this does. It all interfered with me getting to know and therefore invest in these characters – there wasn’t anything on which for me to spend my literary currency, it was handed to me freely. The journalistic style used in some of the dialogue read more like a presentation than two or more people conversing. It made it more difficult to feel the emotion and individual humanity of the characters.

Speaking of which, I love the realistic hodgepodge of characters in this story. Just like life, you’ve got the literal rainbow of all types, sizes and flavors represented, and very well, at that. I know and have known people just like all of them.

There is emotion, though – I don’t think it’s possible for Gormley to not make me feel things.

”Quiet and shy doesn’t mean spineless.”

That belongs in the no truer words spoken category. There are other truths throughout this story, truths from which many of us are trying so hard to make, not just visible but, a safer, equal and more loving reality for everyone.

This leads to my next thought: the mystery and social commentary (on gender, misogyny, race, etc., and how they’re all a part of the gaming world) tussled for top dog status all throughout this book. The mystery was obvious in some aspects while decently vague and cloudy in others. I will say that this does portray without a doubt the frightening randomness of crime, the personal nature of hate crime, and all of the horrible havoc it can cause, often blindsiding everyone involved. For me, this was also one of the difficulties of this story, those warring factions, leaving neither of them with complete attention and focus given.

This is a good story, a unique and important story, one that will open doors for more exploration of the topics and ideas within. I just wish it had gripped me thoroughly, without a chance of letting go.

This feels like an obvious statement piece. I agree with the statements, and think about and discuss them with friends. As a cis het woman, one of these statements shone a light so bright, I was naked beneath it as it held court on the way we are expected to accept many behaviors from misogynistic people in this society:

”In hundreds of little ways, it tells him that he’s right and she was unreasonable.”


This isn’t a romance but more of a depiction of regular folk who are passionate about their ideas and professions, have pasts and demons to deal with, a couple of small twists, murder, and how it all impacts the future and possibility for second chances for some of these characters. Gormley’s writing is confident, with good form and natural rhythm.

This is enjoyable as a social commentary, merely ok as the reading of a piece of fiction. I’m glad I did read it, and I do think it’s important and that anyone who comes across it should also take the time to do the same.

Buy Links

Amazon US
Amazon UK
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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