Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel/Contemporary Fiction
Length: 192 pages
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 5/5 stars
I got a copy of this graphic novel to review through Netgalley. I really really loved it. I thought it was incredibly engaging and also an interesting commentary on some of the unique issues facing our world today.
Anda gets recruited to play in an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) called Coarsegold. She loves it, it gives her an escape from her real life (where she is a new student at a new school and definitely not the prettiest or most popular girl) and helps her build confidence in her real life as well. She teams up with some other players to take out gold farmers (people who farm gold and sell it to other players for real world money). Anda spends all her freetime playing Coarsegold, but starts to wonder about things when she befriends one of the very gold farmers she’s been hunting down in the game.
Anda finds out that the gold farmer she befriends is actually a kid who lives in China and works under awful conditions. She takes it upon herself to try and help him get better working conditions in his real life.
The whole story is a fascinating story that wouldn’t even make sense 10 years ago. It’s an interesting look at how MMORPGs can both help and harm people in real life. It also is a social commentary of how such games can bring people together worldwide, they literally make the world a smaller place. Additionally it looks at working conditions in poverty stricken countries.
Anda gains confidence through her success in Coarsegold and this helps her navigate everyday life at school better. People notice that she feels better about herself and this helps her make real life friends. Anda also learns about how big of a place the world really is and how some of her problems are maybe not that awful compared to what kids in other countries are going through.
Additionally there is a darker side to the story. The story also discusses how third world countries will nearly enslave their populations in order to take advantage of countries where people have a lot of disposable income. This includes some discussion around child labor laws and workers rights, things we take for granted here in the US.
I really enjoyed it a lot and found myself incredibly engaged in the story. I was really pulling for all of the characters and was surprised how much I cared about them despite how short the story was.
The illustration was decent, I liked it but wasn’t blown away by the detail or anything. It is well enough done that it does add to the story quite a bit and it is never confusing to follow what’s going on.
Overall I loved this graphic novel. It’s an interesting combination of coming of age story, social commentary, and fantasy adventure. I found it completely engaging. I think a lot of gamers will love it. I think everyone should read if just to get a glimpse into the MMORPG culture and how it can help people come together.