Book Review: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

Title: In Real Life

Authors: Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (illustrator)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

First Published: 2014

“This life is real too. We’re communicating aren’t we?”

INFO | Goodreads

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In Real Life is a stunning graphic novel about teen Anda and her time spent on the MMORPG, Coarsegold Online.  Initially joining a clan to eliminate players who break the rules, she soon befriends one of the players she has sworn to destroy – he teaches her that things aren’t always as clear-cut as they appear, and that behind the game avatars are real people.

I was intrigued by this story since I’d first heard about it – I was curious to see how the online world would be portrayed.  I’ve dabbled in MMORPGs before and agree with the benefits of online gaming (and can also sympathise with the misunderstanding parents conundrum that Anda faces).  I thought the book approached gaming from a fair and neutral perspective; it showed the benefits of the community and the real friendships online gaming can forge, and also presented the downsides, exploring such things as cultural differences.  It appreciates the immense power of the Internet, and how online communications can affect real life.

Don’t just think because it’s video games people can’t get hurt.

The story was shorter than I had expected.  Events seemed to happen very quickly, and there are some areas that could have benefited from further development.  For example, I think I would have liked to have seen the friendship between the two main characters grow outside of the game; I would certainly buy any sequel produced that continued their stories.

The illustrations were one of the best parts of the book – the character creation page was particularly fascinating to look at, and the busy fantasy world scenes were colourful and exciting.

Overall the story was easy to read, and I finished it in just over half an hour.  I would read it again, but the plot wasn’t quite as exciting as I had expected.  Considering the landscape they had to play with, I was hoping for something more like Username: Evie, but instead IRL focused more on morals and culture than adventure.  It’s a shame that the story didn’t quite meet my expectations, as paired with those gorgeous drawings, it could have been a winner.

Star Rating: ☆☆☆½ (3.5)

Have you read this book?  What are your thoughts on it?


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