A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
In Real Life raises important questions about technology and economic equality. It shows how poor Chinese "gold farmers" are exploited by wealthier players and what might be done to improve their working conditions.
In Real Life emphasizes that there are real people behind the avatars in online games and that you should not make assumptions about them based on how well they play the game. It also demonstrates that girls are both interested in and successful at gaming.
Positive Role Models
Anda wants to succeed and impress others when she's playing Coarsewold Online. At first, she's interested only in winning, but she becomes genuinely concerned about the welfare of any player in China. She's an example of a skilled, yet compassionate, female gamer.
Violence & Scariness
In Real Life contains depictions of online violence with guns, swords, bows and arrows, and other weapons. Because the scenes are mostly bloodless and clearly fantastic, it's unlikely that they would upset any but the most sensitive readers.
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One or two uses each of "hell," "dammit," "bitch," and "ass."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that In Real Life, written by Cory Doctorow and illustrated by Jen Wang, is a graphic novel about a teen girl gamer who learns lessons about working conditions in other parts of the world. It shows both the positive and negative aspects of online gaming and demonstrates that girls can be skilled and empathetic players. The language is generally mild (a few instances each of "hell," "dammit," "bitch," and "ass") and there's no sexual content or drugs and alcohol mentioned. Some scenes involve online violence with swords, rockets, and other weapons, but the action is clearly fantastic and unlikely to disturb most readers.
Is It Any Good?
IN REAL LIFE is an exciting and heartfelt exploration of video-gaming and global economics that features a capable and caring protagonist. Both Anda and her online avatar are depicted as smart, competent, and ultimately kind. Jen Wang's dynamic layouts clearly convey the story and give momentum to the action scenes. Doctorow's plot emphasizes that collective action can lead to better working conditions and that the Internet can be a powerful tool for good.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.