Book Review: IRL

Books | Book Review | In Real Life | Graphic Novel | Video Games | Gaming | Doublexjump.com

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In Real Life, or IRL, is a graphic novel by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang that showcases a high schooler’s life as she joins a popular MMORPG. Anda, the main character, has a love of gaming, both online and offline as the comic shows with her classes in computer and gaming programming as well an afterschool D&D campaign. When a well-known gamer visits her class to talk about Coarsegold, an MMORPG, and the importance of female gamers being comfortable playing as females in their games, Anda joins the guild.

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Upon entering the game, Anda meets another female online who convinces her that there are players who cheat the system by gold farming. It’s her job to get rid of them and she gets paid real money for doing so. Anda joins her in this quest believing she’s doing the right thing for the game and also making a little extra money along the way.

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This isn’t well received by Anda’s mother, who was apprehensive about Anda joining an online game in the first place. Like most parents, her mother was concerned about Anda talking to strangers, particularly men. She was appeased by Anda joining an all-female guild, but when Anda starts getting paid to get rid of gold farmers, it’s her mother’s bank account that is connected to the game. Her mother, believing that Anda is talking to strangers and accepting money, cuts Anda off from her video games right when Anda begins to realize that the gold farmers are real people rather than bots.

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Before Anda gets cut off, she actually has a conversation with one of the gold farmers, a young kid from China trying to make extra money as he works in awful conditions. Anda realizes there are people out there who don’t have it as easy as she does and she’s determined to help him out. There’s a lot of morals that go into this graphic novel and it’s not just about playing video games online and making a hobby out of it.

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Reaching out and trying to help others, bullying, and the morals of meeting people both on- and offline are all lessons that are touched upon in this graphic novel. I actually thought it was interesting how the mother was in this story, with her being concerned about online predators that we really don’t see much nowadays. Rachel and I grew up with the internet, having special classes occasionally in school regarding internet safety since it was still fairly new. Now, kids are much more tech-savvy than their parents when it comes to online and people’s lives are plastered on the internet more so than ever.

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It’s true. Most kids are on their own when it comes to the Internet. They learn from their friends or they figure it out for themselves. However, from a babysitter’s perspective, there are still plenty of parents out there who worry though mostly because they don’t understand. Their kids don’t understand either (even though they think they do) which makes them worry more. So, reading the conversations between Anda and her mother were pretty real to me.

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Which is great, it’s good that the graphic novel echoes the conversations that parents you know have had. I feel as if parents’ involvement with the way their kids interact with the internet has fallen to the wayside in recent years. When it comes to the images of the graphic novel, I enjoyed the art style and how fluid it was. Being set mainly in an MMORPG, there were plenty of action shots and pages, and the characters’ expressions were always clearly captured, in my opinion.

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This graphic novel, overall, is well done. The illustrations are fun, the characters are easy to get into it, and the story is a good one.

Have you ever read IRL? Let us know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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“Nimona” Review

krismii  Happy almost June, everyone! Kris here with my monthly book review. Enjoy!

“Nimona” is a graphic novel by Noelle Stevenson. She’s written for Marvel, DC, and Disney’s Wander Over Yonder, and has been nominated and won a few awards for her work. You can find more information for her at her website here.

Nimona is a bestselling comic from HarperCollins, and details the story of the titular character, a young shapeshifter who shows up at a villain’s doorstep and proclaims herself to be his new sidekick. Lord Ballister Blackheart takes her in and shows himself to have his own moral code versus Nimona’s prone to destructiveness. Together, they go against the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics.

The champion of the Institution is Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, who follows the orders of presumably the king and the Director, a shady figure who only cares for the kingdom’s well-being. Goldenloin and Blackheart definitely have history together, and throughout the story it appears that the pair’s life choices could have been different had a certain incident not sparked the current rivalry. Nimona’s appearance in their lives quite literally involves explosions and forces all the characters to realize why they do what they do.

Rather than video games, this graphic novel is about superheroes and morals, showing the story with witty dialogue, cute illustrations, and quirky characters. It was a fairly quick read, a page-turner with the comic style, and proves that life is not all black and white, not all good and evil.

I definitely recommend this read if you’re into heroics, tough choices, and are a fan of endings where everything is not quite what it seems. If you want a sample of the comic, you can read the first few chapters on the creator’s website!

 

“The Eye of Minds” Review

krismii Happy Monday, everyone! Kris here with a review of a novel that takes place in a virtual reality… in more ways than one.

“Who knows the true definition of real?” – James Dashner (The Eye of Minds)

“The Eye of Minds” Review

This post may contain spoilers for the book.

 

From the Maze Runner fame, James Dashner penned the Mortality Doctrine series of which “The Eye of Minds” is the first. The story revolves around a teenager named Michael who, like the rest of the world, spends much of his time in the VirtNet. There people can live out their fantasies as they want to with no real risk to the own life.

Until, that is, the risks become real.

Enter Kaine, a deranged aspect of the VirtNet that is responsible for other gamers going so far as to kill themselves for real. Michael and his two friends, Bryson and Sarah, are recruited by agents of the VNS — VirtNet Security — to find this Kaine through dangerous codes and programs with their hacking and gaming skills. The entire book is a whirlwind of an adventure with the trio doing their best to follow a thin trail to this Kaine to help the VNS.

The idea of the plot was more interesting to me than the actual reading. Dashner’s writing seemed to be clunky, which worked some of the time due to the main character being a teenager on a crazy ride. With the dangers that surrounded them, it was understandable that Michael’s thoughts were a jumbled mess at times.

There were also parts of the book that I skimmed over for I felt as if the description of Michael’s thoughts and actions weren’t needed as much as the author felt they were. The chapters were short with even smaller sub-chapters, if you will, in them. Many seemed to rehash what we had just read and didn’t reveal anything new to us readers. I found myself wondering why this paragraph or that section was even in the book. Most sections were great for little character developments, but some weren’t enough.

The ending was definitely entertaining and did well in setting us up for the next book. It was a twist that, although hinted at throughout the second half of the novel, was not something that I expected, and it’s certainly a newer idea that I’ve come across in books with virtual realities. I just wish that we didn’t have to sludge through so much narrative to get to, what I believe, was the meat of the story. I will be buying the second book, but it’s not at the top of my list.

“The Eye of Minds” gets a 3 out of 5 stars.

“Ready Player One” Review

krismii Hello everyone! Kris here with a review of a novel that allows readers to dive into a virtual reality world. I hope you enjoy it!

“For a bunch of hairless apes, we’ve actually managed to invent some pretty incredible things.” – Ernest Cline (Ready Player One)

“Ready Player One” Review

This post may contain spoilers for the book.

Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” is catered to video gamers and comic book geeks, and it’s fantastic!

“Ready Player One” plays in a future version of our world, one that is bleak except for the virtual utopia OASIS. It is OASIS that allows the main character, teenage Wade Watts, to enjoy his life as he prefers the virtual world with its puzzles and various lands to reality. The novel is rife with pop culture references for readers of this time, implementing them into the adventure and romance plot flawlessly.

Although the novel started out slowly as us readers got acquainted with Cline’s world and Wade was arrogant in his skills, it was a fun read with the core plot revolving around a competition for control of OASIS. We are soon immersed in the wonder of the virtual reality and Wade’s skills, both of the gaming and social variety, are constantly challenged. Friendships are tested and strengthened, and a strong sense of community rises both in OASIS and the real world that so many try to escape on a normal basis.

With rich, fantasy settings, a wonderful and diverse cast of characters, and a healthy dose of geekiness, “Ready Player One” is more than worthy of a read.

“Ready Player One” gets a 4 out of 5 stars.