In Real Life
By Cory Doctorow
Illustrated by Jen Wang
Not My Edition:
Paperback, 175 pages
2014, First Second
Blurb from Amazon: Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. 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. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing. But things become a lot more complicated when Anda 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 real livelihood is at stake.
I spotted this book when I was trying to find a comfy spot to settle into at the library, and I just read it right then and there. Once again Doctorow has created a book (or comic, in this case) that combines modern technology, teenage life, and activism, and as usual, I greatly enjoyed reading this. In his intro he discusses how the internet can be a powerful tool to organize groups of people to support meaningful campaigns and movements, if we could just work together and put our minds to it. As a girl gamer, I also enjoyed reading about other girl gamers running a guild and dominating in battles. As Anda is levelling up her character, she’s also learning more about herself as a person. This little book also tackles some of the struggles of the online community – bullying, not really knowing who you’re becoming friends with, the anonymity – but it also shows how true friendships can develop and how it’s possible to get to know the real person on the other side of the screen.
Doctorow always reminds me that there’s more I can use the internet for than just blogging, and I always get the urge to become involved in some cause that’s more local or global than just my little home. It’s nice to read young adult fiction that makes me feel this way. I think Doctorow is a very inspiring writers and he’s made his way onto my favorites list.
Also, the art in this book is wonderful – I love Wang’s style. Especially the cover! I want to remove the extra text from the cover and just have a giant poster of Anda and her character. If you’re a graphic novel and fantasy/gaming fan, definitely check this out.
Here’s some more art to feast your eyes on: