In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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In Real Life is a Young Adult Graphic novel that follows Anda, a teenage girl who is introduced to Coarsegold Online, a multiplayer role-playing game through a presentation in one of her classes. A female gamer in Coarsegold visits her classroom and entices the female students to represent themselves as females in the game and join her guild on a one-month temporary basis. Anda jumps on this opportunity and soon starts kicking ass in the game. Eventually, she comes across a impoverished Chinese gamer who uses his avatar as a means of getting money in the real world by collecting objects in Coarsegold. There is actually a very great introduction to the graphic novel that is written by Cory Doctorow, and I highly suggest reading it before commencing the story itself. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the art style and coloring of this graphic novel. The art isn’t all clean lines and mono-coloured, which I appreciated. The colours were vibrant and bold, yet soft on the pages. The colours used in many of the battle scenes and that were used for many of the gamer’s avatars were imaginative and very easily stood out from many graphic novels that I have read in the past.

The story itself felt like it needed to be just a bit longer. In Real Life is supposed to take a look at the real-life repercussions of gaming, poverty, economics and culture. It is very evident what the authors are trying to get across through the contents, but somewhere the connections fell a bit flat. There needed to be more fleshing out on the subjects of economics and poverty…and the way that cultural experiences shaped the story.

Overall, the story is great and I think that it is a good read for readers in the target age group. The book is able to be a great conversational piece and is thought provoking, especially in high school where I wish I would have been able to read something like this for English class. Although I wish we would have been able to delve into social constructs, societal differences, and the ways that poverty drastically shapes lives…I still believe that this is a bold graphic novel. I give In Real Life a rating of 7-out of-10 Unicorn Horns and recommend it to any lover of graphic novels to give a try.

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