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Level Up Hardcover – June 7, 2011
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From the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The story is fresh and funny, while still making you want to have a better relationship with your father and/or son.
The artwork by Thien Pham is fantastic. Understated, but still beautiful and confident.
I'm not a gamer, or male, or Asian-American, or a gastroenterologist, and I still found the characters engaging and lovable. It's the kind of book that made me think. Then made me smile.
It's a great feel-good book. I can't wait to read it again.
Beautifully written and beautifully drawn.
In general the maturity of the book is (clearly) beyond a nine year-old, but it proved great fodder for us to talk at the dinner table about what we'd read and taken away from "Level Up." What parents of any / all nationalities / ethnicities / cultures want for their children and what children themselves want.
First generation Chinese-American Dennis is a college kid who loves to play video games and that's what he wants to pursue. His parents have other ideas, and because they are native Chinese they are not as touchy-feely as either Americans or the younger set. All Dennis hears is that he needs to be a dutiful son and that what he wants doesn't matter ... to *them*. It matters to him, but he tries to appease them.
He flunks out of undergrad but miraculously makes it back in and then goes on to medical school. He makes three good friends there and he seems to feel connected, even if his heart isn't in medicine.
The story is surprisingly quick considering how much ground it covers and how much Dennis learns about his parents, himself, and his true desires. As a parent (nevermind as a reader) I liked that. I liked that Dennis tried different things. I liked that Dennis is smart. I liked that he made smart friends of different races / genders.
"Level Up" makes me glad I went ahead and got a few other books by the author, too. Highly recommend.
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Illustrated by Thien Pham
(First Second, 2011)
Having established his graphic novel street cred with the powerful "American Born Chinese," Gene Luen Yang has emerged as one of the premiere comicbook artists of his generation. In this new story, Yang turns the illustrations over to Thien Pham, whose simple, zine-ish style may be off-putting for fans of Yang's sleeker, smooth-lined graphics, but the disappointment only lasts a second or two: one page into this fast-moving fictional memoir and you will be hooked. Yang and Thien Pham hit a perfect groove, and you'll find it hard to put this book down; it's a compelling, compulsive read.
The story revolves around Dennis Ouyang, an Asian-American kid who discovers his life's calling the first time he sees a video game. At least *he* thinks it's his life's calling: his parents are horrified to see him wasting his time, and unflinchingly push him to excel academically. Dennis rebels against this classic, hard-working immigrant narrative and subsumes himself in video games, but the story takes an abrupt twist when he abandons his slacker-geek lifestyle for some unexpected reasons. The book uses the comicbook format to its fullest potential, disarming readers with deceptive simplicity, while sliding through time and reality with the sort of ease that only this medium can produce. The "Asian-ness" of the story is underplayed: it's there, but not explicitly delved into -- anyone with pushy, loving parents can identify with Dennis and his dilemma. This is a subtle but strange, surprisingly mature story, a quick read and definitely recommended! (Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain book reviews)
Gene Luen Yang creates a compelling and captivating story that puts a new twist on two old genres, coming of age and father/son relationships. Gene creates compelling characters that are easy to recognize and relate too, because regardless of your age, race, gender you can recognize some aspect of your own life in Dennis and his dad's. Perhaps you've even had the same types of conversations with your parents (hopefully without the bossy angels standing by.) Thien Pham, a relative newcomer to the field, creates beautiful and captivating watercolor illustrations to accompany the tale. While the illustrations may not have a lot of details or secrets hidden in them, they work perfectly with the story--especially when it comes to the bossy angels.
A wonderful story and well worth adding to any collection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Level Up is a short and affecting graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham. While I wasn't crazy about American Born Chinese, Yang's most popular work, I was glad to see it... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Tim Field
Agree that it is a Bildungsroman for the video game set.
As an Asian and fast maturing one over 40 years of age and parent to two I've become tired of the trope the Asian... Read more
I picked this skinny comic book out of a privately-owned bookstore near the coast. I was searching for something fun to read during one stay in bookstore-less Jamestown, but wound... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Red Thomas
One of the best, if not the best, comics I've ever read. It's funny it's sad its heartwarming it is everything. Definitely a great quick read for a rainy day!Published 17 months ago by Ben
I bought this from Gene at the ALA convention in Las Vegas this past June. I was sort of awestruck to meet the guy who writes the Avatar: The Last Airbender books, and so I bought... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Jacob G
This was interesting. I liked the way the graphic novel ended. I hope the author makes a sequel. I can't wait for more graphic novels to be released by the author.Published on September 3, 2013 by Kayla's Reads and Reviews
I thought this book is very good. The artwork is perfect for the story line. The story itself is very unique. I'm a gamer and found this story very connecting to my life. Read morePublished on December 10, 2012 by Gregg
Game on. When Dennis was young he discovered Pac Man and it resulted in a passion for video games. He had a big plans for his life that included studying hard, finishing high... Read morePublished on September 26, 2012 by Laura Booksnob