Don't Read the Comments

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
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Heartfelt tale tackles sexism and racism in gaming industry.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about sexism, racism, harassment, and doxing in the gaming industry. Check out these tips for privacy and internet safety plus how to deal with cyberbullies and online trolls.

Positive Messages

Perseverance, compassion, communication, and friendship are important themes. Be careful what you share online about yourself. Fight back against sexism and racism.

Positive Role Models & Representations

These strong, smart, diverse characters of color fight back against racism, sexism, harassment in the gaming industry. 

Violence

Characters experience sexism, racism, virtual and IRL harassment, and doxing from cyberbullies and online trolls. Divya's mom gets egged outside of a library. A group of guys harass Divya and Rebekah at an arcade.

Sex

Characters flirt, kiss, and talk about going on dates.

Language

Strong language includes repeated uses and variations of "s--t," "f--k," "a--hole," "bitch," "bastard," "douche bag," "hell," and more.

Consumerism

Divya is gaming professionally on Glitch (like Twitch) to help support her mom's dreams, pay the rent, groceries, etc. Aaron comes from a wealthy family, but his mom doesn't support this dream, so he has to dumpster-dive for computer parts. There are tons of pop culture mentions and references such as Samsung, Sony, Playstation, Oculus, Halo, Star Wars, Pinterest, Twitter, Game of Thrones, Final Fantasy, X-Men, Luke Cage, Netflix, Say Anything, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Eric Smith's Don't Read the Comments tackles sexism, racism, online and IRL harassment, and doxing in the gaming industry. One character is gaming professionally on Glitch (like Twitch) to help support her mom's dreams, pay the rent, buy groceries, etc. Another character comes from a wealthy family, but his mom doesn't support this dream, so he has to dumpster-dive for computer parts. A character's mom gets egged outside a library. Two girls are harassed by a group of guys at an arcade. Characters flirt, kiss, and talk about going on dates. Strong language includes repeated uses and variations of "s--t," "f--k," "a--hole," "bitch," "bastard," "douche bag," "hell," and more. 

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What's the story?

DON'T READ THE COMMENTS follows Divya Sharma, also known as the popular gamer D1V, who uses Glitch to stream herself playing Reclaim the Sun and uses her sponsorship money to help her mom pay the rent for their small apartment. Aaron Jericho dreams of writing video games after high school instead of becoming a doctor like his mom. And working for ManaPunk with his friends seems like the right place to jumpstart his career. When Divya and Aaron meet online while playing Reclaim the Sun, they quickly form a friendship with the potential for romance. But when an online troll group called Vox Populi begins harassing Divya virtually and IRL, Aaron's gaming industry dreams and Divya's safety and privacy are threatened.

Is it any good?

You don't need to be a gamer to appreciate Eric Smith's heartfelt tale that thoughtfully tackles sexism, racism, and harassment in the gaming industry. Readers will love his strong, smart, and diverse characters as well as the sweet friendship between Divya and Aaron, which slowly builds into a swoon-worthy romance. Don't Read the Comments is full of rich, descriptive VR gaming passages that transport readers into the Reclaim the Sun universe and also remind teens about the importance of practicing good digital citizenship habits. As Divya and Aaron fight back against the Vox Populi, teens will see the importance of communication, compassion, perseverance, and fighting for what you believe in.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how gaming is portrayed in Don't Read the Comments. How important have online games become in pop culture? Why are they so popular? 

  • Divya spends a lot of time hiding her location and true identity. How do her precautions compare to the strategies you use to work and play online safely? Check out these tips for privacy and internet safety, plus how to deal with cyberbullies and online trolls

  • How do the characters in Don't Read the Comments demonstrate communication, compassion, and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love tech, gaming, and digital life

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