Friday, March 27, 2015

In Real Life

Author: Cory Doctorow, Illustrator: Jen Wang
Info: First Second, copyright 2014, 187 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): The startling realization that there is a person behind the avatar.

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time.  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.

But things become a lot more complicated when And a 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 livelihood is at stake.

~Goodreads Description

This is strangely my first Cory Doctorow book.  I've glanced at, picked up, and considered just about every Doctorow story in my library, but this one I took home and for the only reason that I'm in a graphic novel kind of mood these days.

Coarsegold Online is a video game, and Fahrenheit is a guild of girl gamers, very talented, intense girl gamers.  Anda is selected as a temporary guild member.  Day by day she builds her avatar, increases her power, and goes on quests, finding a home in the virtual world.  Then she meets Lucy who likes to live on the edge.  Lucy, who likes dangerous quests, extra quests that seek out avatars who are illegally collecting gold.

To be honest...I have no idea what that means.  I have never played a role-playing-game, and I'm not sure how a game is designed that allows someone to skirt the system.  I take that back.  I play Wii Lego games all of the time, and I won't deny that after a quick run through I look for the cheat codes. Maybe it's something like that?  A way to give me an edge?

Anyway, much of this story was lost on me.  I loved the artwork, and I loved the characters (though character development was pretty light), but the gaming stuff went almost completely over my head.  I do however really like the idea of empowered female gamers who want recognition for the talents.  To stand equally to male gamers.  And, well, to kick some butt.

So despite the confusion, I liked the book.  It wasn't the best I've ever read, but it's good.  And it kind of really made me want to revisit Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which I don't really need an excuse to do.  Especially since I haven't listened to the audiobook read by Will Wheaton :)

Not a bad choice for my graphic novel craving.

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