Turns out Anda really is good at the online gaming thing, and she soon makes herself an invaluable part of the team, making friends with other girls in the process. Online, of course. But, as we all know about MMORPGs, she also encounters a wide range of other people from all over the world. Some of those people, though, are illicitly harvesting game items to sell online to wealthier players—gold farmers, a concept that will be familiar to anyone who read Cory Doctorow's YA novel For The Win (reviewed here). This one proves Doctorow can write girl gamers just as well as he writes about guy gamers.
One day, Anda and her team are dispatched on a raid to go bust the chops of some gold farmers. Normally this would be a straightforward task, but then one of the gold farmers' avatar…talks to Anda. He's just another kid, sitting at a computer in China, but it doesn't take a long conversation before Anda realizes there's something really wrong and exploitative about the whole gold farming business. And that's when things start to get complicated for Anda, both online and IRL.
|Image acquired from Forbidden Planet blog - go|
check out their awesome feature on In Real Life.
Now, being an introvert, I was totally fine with solitary hours playing Tetris or Super Mario Brothers; but things might have been very different if there had been more girl gamers around. What I love is the sense of teamwork and group accomplishment that Anda gains from being part of her raiding team—qualities that can and do apply to real-life relationships. And it's a slap in the face of everyone who assumes girl gamers don't exist. On the contrary--I can see girl gamers reading this and just glowing at the idea that, here they are, finally represented in a story about THEM. It is, as I said, lovely.
I want to talk about the artwork, too. The artwork just immediately endears you to all the characters and makes you want to hug them. It's fun, cute, colorful…In its style, it reminds me of graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier. But don't mistake me—by cute, I don't mean cutesy. It's very appealing visually, with a looseness in its drawing style that makes it feel…approachable.
Valleys: I don't think there's a single negative thing I have to say about this one, honestly.
Conclusion: One quick thing to add: If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, the authors are going to be at Mrs. Dalloway's bookstore in Berkeley NEXT THURSDAY, Oct. 16. Squee!
I received my copy of this book courtesy of First Second. You can find In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you on October 14th, 2014!