Mini Review: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

Title: In Real Life
Author: Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
Series: None
Publisher: First Second, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 175
Format/Source: Graphic Novel Paperback/Purchased  

Age Group/Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary, Gaming

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It’s a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It’s a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer–a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

From acclaimed teen author (Little Brother, For the Win) and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow and Koko Be Good creator Jen Wang, In Real Life is a perceptive and high-stakes look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture clash. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

As with all my mini reviews, I’m just going to share some of my notes:

  • I love that the blurb on the front is from Felicia Day!
  • I LOVE the cover. I LOVE the artwork throughout!
  • Unfortunately, the story is too political. I understand what they were going for with the political stuff, but they focused too much on that and therefore the plot was kind of lost.
  • I was expecting and hoping for a book that really reminded me of the web series The Guild.
  • And for some reason, my book smells really bad. I don’t know if it was the paper they printed it on or the ink or maybe just my copy, but it was BAD.
My rating for In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang:
3 stars, but I really had a hard time rating this one. I loved the artwork but the plot just got lost with all the political stuff. And with that cover, I was hoping for a story about a shy girl who becomes her true self when gaming, and that’s just not what this story is about.
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Macmillan
Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.


  1. Kami

    May 29, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    I loved the artwork and all the MMORPG stuff in this one, but I agree that the politics were a little too heavy.

  2. fakesteph

    June 1, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I don't know if I find it funny or devastating that your book smelled bad.

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