In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang Review


Book: In Real Life

Author/Artist: Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Genre: Graphic Novel/Sequential Art

Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Blurb

“You will play honorably, you will play fiercely, and above all, you will show others what it takes to be extraordinary.”

SO, this book is about a teenage girl named, Anda, who after hearing guest speaker, Liza McCombs, promote gaming as girls in the fastest growing massive multiplayer role-playing game, Coarsegold Online, decides to join this online world in which she feels she can be a hero. Anda 1There, she meets another gamer of higher rank who finds potential in her and offers her an online missions in exchange for cash. All she has to do is exterminate gold farmers, who are illegal players that collect gold in order to sell it to other lazier gamers who have the money to pay for people to do all the hard work. At first this seems like an easy enough task, Anda kicks ass at the game, and it’s unfair for those other gamers to be cheating by paying gold farmers to get things that would take months to get or achieve. That is, until Anda befriends a gold farmer, a poor chinese boy who works as a gold farmer to earn gold and then sell it to other gamers with the money to spend, and learns that every thing is not what it seems and that there’s a story behind every gamer, even gold farmers.

This book is about games and economics.

Most people games as mere entertainment, and while economics is important, no one really likes to dig into it. So when you combine games and economics, and dig deep into their roots and how they connect, you find yourself looking at a bunch of tough questions about politics and labor, and soon learn that, as is said in the description, the answers to this questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.
I take it that even though this book doesn’t say the word “feminism” anywhere, it indirectly promotes feminism and encourages girls to do things lots of them are afraid to even try and to be themselves and be proud of being… Well, girls! And if yooooou knoooow meeeee, you know that I LOVE THAT! Seeing or reading about girls being kickass at life and being proud of being girls is one of the greatest, most satisfying and encouraging, pleasures  in life, for me. And in addition to that, I’d say this book, in a way, deals with adolescence and the struggles that come with it.InRealLife-2P-12

Now, while this book didn’t blow me away as much as I would’ve liked it to, it did leave me thinking, and like the author said, “digging deeper” into this rather touchy subject that’s being presented in this graphic novel. We often do things or acknowledge things in life without actually giving any thought to it, and this book was a slight wake up call. What may seem like something wrong, or something simple, or insignificant, that may just be the life of someone less fortunate. We live in a really corrupt, unfair world, in which some people are unfortunate enough to be living in poverty while others swim in unnecessary riches, and we often fail to see this unbalanced reality. While this book connected this cruel reality to video games, which was something that I didn’t expect when I bought this graphic novel, that’s just an example of the millions and millions of situations of people less fortunate than us, but no less deserving of a better life than we are, and so I really appreciated that this graphic novel had a deeper message than I thought I’d bargained for.In-Real-Life

I’d say this graphic novel has two color schemes, one for Anda’s real life and one for Anda’s online life. And even though both of these belong to the same story, they’re quite the opposite of one another.

Anda’s real life color scheme is not startlingly beautiful. It’s quite boring and muted, which doesn’t seem very eye-catching (cause it isn’t) but it serves as a comparative to the stunning color scheme of Anda’s online life, and Coarsegold Online itself. It’s full of lively, vivid colors, and combined with the artwork it’s truly something worth looking at. The clash of these color schemes perfectly presents how different a life can seem online from what it is in real life, and that sometimes we immerse ourselves into these lovely, seemingly perfect worlds or ideas, and end up closing our eyes to one of the ugly truths of reality. I’m not sure if that was the purpose the authors chose for these color schemes, but that’s my interpretation of it.

Coarsegold Color Scheme aka Anda’s Online Life:

9781596436589.IN01089 in-real-life-doctorow-wang-gaming-scene irl-2

Anda’s Real Life Color Scheme:

InRealLife-COMBINED_100-27 09TAYLOR-blog427

I also reeeeeeally dig the art in this book. It’s very whimsical and comely, and I love that it shows diversity in body types, specially with the main character.

Overall, I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It’s a graphic novel, so it’s easier and faster to read than an actual book, the art and color schemes are wonderful, and it has a deep meaning worth checking out. It’s not something mind-blowing, just something eye-opening and entertaining at the same time. I do recommend checking it out, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Adriana (4)