Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Level Up: a graphic novel review
Info: First Second, copyright 2011, 160 pages
A review in 10 word (or thereabouts): A gamer tries to reconcile his passion with family expectations.
Dennis Ouyang has always struggled in the shadow of his parents' expectations. His path is laid out for him: stay focused in high school, become a gastroenterologist. It may be hard work, but it isn't complicated...Until suddenly it is.
Between his father's death, his academic burnout, and his deep (and distracting) love of video games, Dennis is nowhere near where his family wanted him to be. In fact, he's just been kicked out of college.
And that's when things get...weird.
Four adorable--and bossy--angels, straight out of a sappy greeting card, appear and take charge of Dennis's life. And so Dennis finds himself herded back onto the straight and narrow: the path to gastroenterology. But nothing is ever what it seems when life, magic and video games collide.
Not quite what I was expecting. In my defense (which isn't really a defense) I was judging the book by the cover and thought hey! a Gene Luen Yang graphic novel about video games. Not so much. In typical fashion from the author, however, it was another touching, emotional book that struck a cord and left me thinking. Dennis is trying to reconcile his passion for video games, denied him as a child, and family expectations after the loss of his father. It's a story of forgiveness and acceptance. Of following your passions and being open to the unexpected opportunities that life delivers. It's also a warning to stay away from little angels who want to help you meet your destiny.
If you've got a free hour, enjoy this little gem of a graphic novel, and then go visit Gene Luen Yang's other titles. It's worth it!