This is a darling book that deals with a plethora of topics all within an appealing "gamer" plot. I found the gamer plot fascinating not knowing much about that myself. Doctorow presents a coming of age story for a young woman. She's a typical teen, a bit of an outsider, plus-sized, and lacking a bit in self-esteem. She is introduced to the world of MMORPGs where the author explores such themes as female gamers, online safety, the real people behind avatar identities, online reality vs "real life", healthcare, our freedoms living in a democratic society vs the struggle for existence in a communist country. I particularly found it refreshing that Doctorow manages to tackle all these topics without resorting to politics. Deep, deep themes all told within a light-hearted, fun story with a main character one can't help but love as we see her subtly change as she matures, takes control of her life and becomes empowered. I love, love, loved this!
I’ve always loved video games. One of my favourites, World of Warcraft, is similar to the game Coarsegold that Anda plays in this book. This book shows both the positive and negative parts of gaming.
Anda’s mother was worried about Anda playing games online. She didn’t want her to speak to strangers. She told her to only speak to kids her age, but you can’t tell how old someone is online. Her suspicions were validated when she sees strange deposits into her PayPal account, which was from the gold farmers that Anda had stopped in the game.
There are also good sides of gaming. Anda made a good friend from another part of the world, which wouldn’t have been possible without the game. She even helped organize a protest for the gold farmers to get health care provided in their jobs.
The game taught Anda how to be a better person, much to her mother’s surprise. I really enjoyed this book, and I recommend it for kids and adults!