Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: In Real Life

In Real Life
by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang 


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 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. 

From acclaimed teen author (Little Brother, For the Win) and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow and Koko Be Good creator Jen Wang, In Real Life is a perceptive and high-stakes look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture clash (from Goodreads).

My Review:

I’ve slowly been getting more into graphic novels this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed In Real Life, reading it in one sitting. I’m not really a gamer girl, but I don’t think that really bars one from enjoying this book. I’m not really sure what I was expecting when I first saw the cover online. I hardly ever check book blurbs, bad habit I know. But it looked like a fun read so I put it right on hold.

The story centers around this young teenage girl, Anda, who gets into this huge online rpg (which is somehow recommended by this visiting speaker at her school, a bit weird in my opinion). It’s interesting how the plot centers around not just the game world itself and the characters (and the real people behind them), but also on the girl’s social life, and the political issues where certain players are forced to work and “cheat” at the game in order to make a real life profit. 

She befriends several characters, one who is set on killing off all of the "gold farmers" (and in turn making their own real life profit in the process) and another who is actually one of the gold farmers. This gives Anda a look at both sides of the story and makes her question the right and wrong of the situation. 

It was a different spin on online gaming that I hadn’t ever considered before. While I partake in written role play, I’ve never really gotten into video games or playing online role play type games. I am slightly familiar with it as a whole, though. So for the actual gamer, this would definitely be a fun, and perhaps insightful, read.


I would say this is a nice, quick, fun read for the summer. The art style was pretty and quirky, and I just loved that about it. My library has this filed under YA. I would recommend this to about mid teen & up. The whole issue about being careful while talking to strangers online is kind of skirted around a bit carelessly I think, so I wouldn’t recommend it to too young of a reader who might not know any better.


  1. I've wanted to read this one for forever. I'm glad you loved it! The art really pulls me in. Exactly my style(that I love).
    I'm not a gamer either, but I still kind of resonate with them. Weird? I don't know... Lol. Great review, Jen! I'm probably just going to buy this one soon.

    1. Yeah, I'm quickly starting to really get into this kind of style. It's so neat. :)
      In a weird sort of way, that makes sense. :P Thanks!! I'd like to buy it eventually, but I just can't splurge on as many books as I would like to right now.


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