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In Real Life Paperback – October 14, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Anda begins playing Coarsegold Online, a massive multiplayer game, after a gamer specifically looking for girls to play as female characters visits her school. Immediately adept at the game, Anda meets a player who tells her she can make money by killing characters farming for gold. These farmers sell gold to players, allowing them to essentially cheat at the game by quickly buying items they have not earned. Anda meets Raymond, a Chinese teen who works as a gold farmer. She learns about his real life—he works long days and has no health coverage. She encourages him to demand health care or strike, a choice that ends up having real-world ramifications. The narrative toggles between the in-game story and real life. The illustrations of the game are vibrant and dynamic, contrasting well with the muted browns and drab greens of Anda's reality. A detailed introduction by Doctorow about games, economics, politics, and activism serves to ensure readers "get" the story. The author attempts to tackle these large issues and others (like gender and privilege) but only does so superficially. The writing can feel heavy-handed, with the message overpowering Anda's voice. The problematic notion of a white character speaking for and trying to save minority characters (that all look identical) is addressed, but the too tidy ending makes that issue, and many others, feel oversimplified. The subject matter will have a built-in audience, and the appealing artwork will move this off the shelves, but readers may ultimately find the story unsatisfying.—Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Apollo High School Library, St. Cloud, MN
“A lovely graphic novel for gamer girls of all ages.” ―Felicia Day, star and creator of The Guild
“Stunning artwork . . . An educational introduction offers further infight into gaming and the economies and political implications behind them.” ―BCCB
“The combination of girls-only gaming; gorgeous, stylized artwork; and a meaningful, sophisticated message about online gaming makes this a surefire hit for readers everywhere, especially girls.” ―Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“The illustrations of the game are vibrant and dynamic . . . The subject matter will have a built-in audience, and the appealing artwork will move this off the shelves.” ―School Library Journal
“Online gaming and real life collide when a teen discovers the hidden economies and injustices that hide among seemingly innocent pixels . . . Through Wong's captivating illustrations and Doctorow's heady prose, readers are left with a story that's both wholly satisfying as a work of fiction and series food for thought about the real-life ramifications of playing in an intangible world. Thought-provoking, as always from Doctorow.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Characters come to life through Wang's (Koko Be Good) fluid forms and emotive faces, and her adroit shift in colors as the story moves between the physical and gaming worlds is subtle and effective.” ―Publishers Weekly
Top customer reviews
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The art was what drew me to this book in the first place, though, as it looks like a creative marriage of Bryan Lee O'Malley's (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Seconds) and Hayao Miyazaki's (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) distinct styles. Wang's style creates a very stylized world that I would very much like to see more of, but we sadly see more of the characters than the backgrounds. For instance, there are six unique races to choose from in the game world that takes up about half of the story (likely more), but we only focus on the protagonist and a few side characters, all of whom cover two of the six races depicted. I would very much like for this creative team to collaborate together again, if for no other reason than to see more of this digital world that was crafted for the book.
In case that wasn't clear enough, I feel that this book was very short and sweet, but perhaps was too succinct. There are fantastic-looking elements of this book that I would have loved to see explored in more detail, but the brevity of the book doesn't allow for that. With all of that said, I did enjoy this book, but it is a very quick read (I finished in on my lunch hour) and I would have liked to have seen more of it.
I loved the art style and all of the colors in every panel were vibrant and beautiful. In addition the world building was done quite nicely as well. The characters I sort of have mixed feelings about however as I feel like while it took child labor (in foreign countries) which is a serious issue and didn't really do anything with it. Yes it was brought to the attention of the readers and yes the protagonist tried her best to help the player/person it was affecting but it felt forced. Most of the character interactions other than Anda and the Chinese boy felt forced and lacked much feeling or substance.
It did make for a very quick read and I am still glad I picked this graphic novel up however I just wish it would have hit home like Nimona or I Hate Fairyland did.
Anda was such a real character and I loved her perseverance to do what was right, not for herself, but for those of whom she didn’t even know. SO cool! I wish I could’ve had that sort of resolve at sixteen years old. I love how everything was wrapped up too, and the length of this graphic novel was just right. Everything was basically perfection.
Most recent customer reviews
What made me pick this book up:
I found it on goodreads and the cover looked great and totally something I'd like.Read more
I was incredibly taken in by Jen Wang’s artwork.Read more