Monday, January 21, 2013

Intro to LARPing

A few months ago I went out to dinner with one of my old friends.  We were catching up on what our families have been doing, when she mentioned that her nephew is really into LARPing.  Did I know what that was?  No!  She explained that LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role Play, and that it basically means that her nephew dresses up in costumes with a big group of other people, and they act out different scenarios over the course of a weekend.

When Justin Calderone emailed me to ask if I would review his book, LARPThe Battle for Verona, I was ready.  I already knew what LARPing was, after all!  So I agreed.

LARP:  The Battle for Verona is a LARPer's fantasy.  The first third is focused on the politics of LARPing.  Then, our LARPers meet an unexpected challenge.  Their town, set on an island off the coast of Washington State, is invaded by Mongolians.  The US Army doesn't know how to fight these primitive warriors, but the LARPers are prepared.  They have been battling medieval style every weekend for the last 10 years, and are excited to try out their moves for real. 

Did I mention that this is a fantasy?  Seriously.  If you are looking for a story based in reality, this is probably not the book for you. However, if you can let go, and give the LARPers a chance, it is a fun, quick read.  Also, it is worth mentioning that while this book is intended for adults, it would be appropriate for high school and even middle school students who are strong readers, as it doesn't really have much violence, and there is no sexual content or strong language that I can recall.  In this book, the nerds finish first, even though it took them until they had been out of high school for 10 years to win.  That might be just the message that a teenager who is having a rough time in school needs to hear.

I have no idea if other people are writing about LARPing.  It seems like an area that would make great fiction.  If I understand correctly, LARPers come up with a fictional scenario, and improvise, based on their characters' imagined traits.  They are different from war reenactors because they are not trying to re-create something that already happened, but instead are crafting their own story as they go along.  I liked the part of Calderone's book that was focused on the LARP group preparing for their scheduled battle, with all of the power struggles and ego stroking that involved.  A great storyline for a different LARP book would be to start there, but then add a real life murder or series of murders within the LARP battle.  The LARPers could then try to solve the crime before they become the next victims.  Actually that might even make a good CSI episode, if that show is still on!

In the interest of full disclosure, as I mentioned, the author, Justin Calderone, contacted me and asked me to review his book.  He sent me the book, in .pdf form, and I agreed to read and review it.  No promise were made, no payments were received.  I cut back on my Off the Shelf Challenge commitment for this year to give me the time to do one "industry requested" review like this each month.  I've received several requests this month, and next month I will be reviewing Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie, Jr.

Next up:  My Berlin Kitchen:  A Love Story with Recipes by Luisa Weiss

Still Listening to:  The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

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