Early Book Review: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang is a young adult graphic novel currently scheduled for release on October 14 2014. 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. Things become more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer, a poor Chinese kid whose real life job is acting in game to collect valuable objects to be sold to other players. While against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda realizes that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake. 

In Real Life is a graphic novel that really tackles some tough topics. It tackles the lack of respect women and girls get in gaming, the technicalities of what is right and wrong in game,  how goos some of us have it, how bad other people’s live can be, and how game life and real life can effect each other. Right and wrong is rarely as cut and dry as we would like to believe. There are shades of grey, even in fictional worlds. Anda is a girl that is great with computers and offered a chance to take part in a new game, in an all girl guild. While trying to make a name for herself she has the chance to help eliminate gold farmer, only to see that doing something that removes players breaking the rules is still not always the right thing to do. Taking the time to talk and learn about another gamer brings about great understanding, but also causes trouble that is not easily resolved. The art work was a perfect pairing with the story and dialogue, resulting in a perfect glimpse of how complicated life can be. 

In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash. I think every computer savvy reader, and every gamer, will get something remarkable from this book. Readers that are neither internet or game savvy should still give this graphic novel a chance, it does a good job of explaining why some people love gaming so much as well as how complex the ties of the internet and economy are.

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