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!

 

“Username: Evie” Review

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

“Be proud of who you are, and never lose sight of the fact that you are loved.” – Joe Sugg (Username: Evie)

“Username: Evie” Review

This post may contain spoilers for the book.

 

Joe Sugg, a famed YouTuber from the UK, penned this graphic novel. It’s his debut in the world of publishing and, in my opinion, he did pretty well.

The story itself centers around a young woman, aptly named Evie, who doesn’t quite fit in at school or with her peers. Most of it seems to stem from a poor relationship with her cousin Mallory, who is the Queen Bee of the high school, a typical teenage woe that is popular in fiction. Her terminally ill father creates this virtual reality world for her to escape and recharge when she needs a break from real life. Yet, when the program gets corrupted, it is up to Evie to gain the confidence to face her fears and overcome the challenges to right the virtual reality as she finds her way back to the real world.

The story itself is enjoyable, as are the illustrations, and the frames of the comic flow rather well. The characters can be a bit cliche — the nerd, the jock, the insufferable Queen Bee stereotype — but some of the cliches can definitely be overlooked as most of the characters seem to redeem or find themselves by the end of the story.

My main issue with the graphic novel is that it wraps up too quickly and too nicely. It’s a graphic novel rather than an epic 300-page book, of course, so it was definitely going to be shorter, but I’m curious as to what the team of creators could have done had this graphic novel been stretched into a few books rather than one. The story and characters could have grown much more.

Still, for a first-time published author, Joe Sugg and his team created an enjoyable graphic novel for all of us geeks who wish for a world to escape from real life, even if just for a while so we can appreciate the real world for the wonderful place it can be.

“Username: Evie” gets a 4 out of 5 stars.