In Real Life
Booklist Reviews 2014 September #2
*Starred Review* While in programming class, Anda is invited to join a girls-only fighting guild in a new MMORPG, and she jumps at the chance. Soon, she's recruited by another player for paid missions to exterminate gold farmers, low-level players who use the game for profit. It all seems like good, honest fun until she talks to one gold farmer, Raymond, a teen in China who is also playing the game, but for him, it's a job, and his working conditions are unsafe. Anda encourages Raymond to foment a strike, but it doesn't go well. Guilt-ridden, she attempts to find other ways to help, and she becomes more in tune with global injustice and labor issues in the process. Doctorow's story brilliantly ties together real-world economic and labor issues in the context of an online game, and he emphasizes the implications of actions taken in the gaming world that many players may take for granted. Wang's gorgeous, jewel-toned panels give lively, expressive shape to both chubby Anda's real life in Colorado and the fantastical battles in the game. The combination of girls-only gaming; gorgeous, stylized artwork; and a meaningful, sophisticated message about online gaming makes this a surefire hit for readers everywhere, especially girls. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2014 August #4
In a heartfelt and of-the-moment story, Doctorow draws on his technology acumen and activism to portray the intricacies of 21st-century global citizenry, while also touching on what it means to be a gamer (particularly a female one). After joining the massively multiplayer online game Coarsegold, Arizona high schooler Anda meets Raymond, a boy from China who works as a "gold farmer," collecting in-game resources to be sold for real-world cash (a concept Doctorow explored in-depth in 2010's For the Win). Initially, Anda is led to believe that Raymond and his ilk are corrupting the game, but after she discovers their tenuous economic circumstances and poor living conditions, she begins urging Raymond to demand better treatment. It's a noble cause, but it comes with potential consequences for both Raymond and Anda. Characters come to life through Wang's (Koko Be Good) fluid forms and emotive faces, and her adroit shift in colors as the story moves between the physical and gaming worlds is subtle and effective. Ages 12–up. Author's agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC