Dore' Ripley's Reviews > Level Up

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang
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's review
Sep 25, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2011

Level Up, the latest work by Printz Award winner Gene Luen Yang and artist Thien Pham, is sweet, nostalgic, mysterious, and has enough twists to keep you turning the pages. Dennis Ouyang is a video game enthusiast whose late night tournaments lead to his collegiate demise, but not to worry: Four greeting-card angels soon put him back on the path. In spite of the angels’ incessant coffee brewing, Dennis soon quits medical school and takes up gaming professionally, so why isn’t he happy? He discovers happiness lies in doing good things for others, gives up gaming, and reenrolls in medical school, where his video skills collide with gastroenterology in a gross yet gratifying fashion. As with American Born Chinese, Yang creates another bildungsroman and, while this one is about growing up Asian American, it will appeal to anyone who has tried to live up to the ideals of friends and family. Level Up took five years to create, including one complete rewrite, and as Yang puts it, “The student it was based on was a freshman in high school when we started, and now he’s a sophomore in college.”
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