Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: In Real Life

IN REAL LIFE by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang is aimed directly at young online game players who may be unwittingly drawn into the hidden world of virtual economics and illegal gold farming. In this compelling graphic novel for youth, Anda is faced with the real-life consequences of what at first seems to be a fun new online game. The book’s cover does an exceptional job illustrating the dual worlds of online gaming and the real-world.

Doctorow’s powerful introduction to IN REAL LIFE provides an overview of the timely issues discussed in the book. From Minecraft for younger children to World of Warcraft for teens and beyond, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs) are popular with youth. Recently, some of these online games have morphed into examples of living economics with millions of dollars of virtual merchandise being traded. Although many game developers have banned gold farming, it continues to be a real problem impacting both game play and the illegal activities often associated with taxation and labor issues. Cory Doctorow has tried to raise awareness of these issues in previous works like the short story ANDA’S GAME and novel FOR THE WIN.

Jen Wang’s beautiful, bold illustrations will appeal to the target audience. Her portrayal of authentic body-types in the real-world sequences and visually-rich fantasy elements in the gaming segments make the illustrations perfect for young people.

The focus on girls-only gaming along with a thought-provoking message will make this graphic novel an outstanding addition to the growing number of works for youth that explore the fascinating world of online gaming.

Learn more about Cory Doctorow at

Follow illustrator Jen Wang on Twitter at

NetGalley ARC used for review