Friday, September 19, 2014

REVIEW: "In Real Life" by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Disclaimer: I received a free, advance e-galley from  in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Release Date: October 14, 2014

Type: Graphic Novel, Young Adult Fiction, Teen Fiction, MMORPGs, Video Games, Social Issues,

About the Book: Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing. 

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer - a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake. 

From acclaimed teen author and digerati bigwig Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.
My Review: I will start by saying what I loved about this book - the art. I greatly enjoyed the subtle, but well-done differences between the real world and the in-game world. I also loved the act of signing into the game, where Anda becomes her character. Expertly done. Over all, the art is very appealing in this graphic novel.

And now to the story, which was what didn't impress me as much. It's a good story, and the author showcases plenty of growth when it comes to Anda. And I would have liked to see more of Anda offline, out of the game. We do get this, of course. But I want to see how her self-confidence in the game world affects her self-confidence in the real world. If she feels braver at school since she is so well-respected online.

Despite the great intentions, for me.. the story just fell flat. I don't really care too much about Anda, and her interests, which is unfortunate considering she is the main character. I know Anda's actions come from a good heart and the want to do good, but I got the feeling the story is more along the lines of "the good American coming in to fix other cultures." I'm sure this isn't what the author is going for - Cory Doctorow is very well respected in the writing world - but this situation and story just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Cover Lovin': Great cover. Really showcases the art, which as I stated, was my favorite part about this book. And audiences can see the differences between real life, and Anda's online character.

Recommendation: For fans of Cory Doctorow, obviously. If you like your manga with some social issues and social change added in, definitely check this book out.

Final Rating: THREE out of FIVE stars (3/5). My 3.0 rating is for the good intentions the author had while writing this story. But mostly for the art, which I loved.

Happy Reading!
~!~ Manda at Novel Addiction ~!~

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