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In Real Life

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  20,215 Ratings  ·  2,760 Reviews
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
Paperback, 175 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by First Second (first published 2014)
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David Muniak Like most of Cory Doctorow's books there are a bunch of layers.

Here's the layers that show up (at least to me):

Economic differences in why people play…more
Like most of Cory Doctorow's books there are a bunch of layers.

Here's the layers that show up (at least to me):

Economic differences in why people play games (Gamers vs Gold Farmers)

Ethics of real money interacting with game balance (Gold farming as a job and receiving real money to raid other gold farmers)

And also the unionization/organization positives and negatives (Working together to get healthcare, but also the first person speaking up being made an example of).

The moral I took from this was that communication can bridge gaps and can accomplish much.

She joined the game because the guild leader reached out.
She learned of the gold-farmers plight because she talked to one instead of just killing.
By helping spread the call-to-action she helped make the gold-farmers work place a better place.

And by speaking English with Raymond she actually improved his life (though not without setbacks)(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I loved the art style, but the story didn't wow me as much as I was expecting.
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK HAD ME SHOUTING OUT LOUD! Such a riot! While reading I couldn't contain my gasps and moments of shock. The drawings were absolutely beautiful, and I love how much they changed from page to page - it wasn't just square strip after square strip - and I loved the colour palette. And the story! It was fantastic! It brought a very interesting social issue into what could have remained a very light hearted read. PLUS FEMINIST UNDERTONES.

Much recommended.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In Real Life, this new graphic novel written by Cory Doctorow with art by Jen Wang is full of them. In its heartfelt introduction, Cory Doctorow says that In Real Life is about game and economics, about the – political, economical, social – choices that we make on a daily basis and their consequences. About how social media and the Internet can potentially shape and change the world.

The book portrays how Anda – the shy and lonely main character try
Clau R.
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, cover-love
3,5 stars
A good read for gamers and lovers of graphic novels!

The first thing I noticed was actually the atmosphere of the story and how it, along with the drawings, immediately gripped my interest.

It doesn’t always feel like there is a plot, but that’s what, in my opinion, makes it so realistic. It’s contemporary and, as life, not always predictable.

Anda is not your usual YA protagonist. She isn’t the high school queen or popular or super skinny, but she’s herself and a very good person who thinks of ot
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels

In Real Life is the story of Anda, a teenaged girl who is inspired by a speaker at her school to become active in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game called Coarsegold.


In the course of trying to establish her role in a women-only guild called Clan Fahrenheit, Anda —in her online guise of Kali Destroyer— begins taking paying jobs wiping out "gold farmers," overseas minimum-wage workers who harvest in-game product and sell it to novice gamers for real-world money.

But things become a
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was NOT expecting to love this as much as I did, but HOLY MOLY I LOVED IT.
Raeleen Lemay
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, graphicomanga

The only thing I would change would be to make it longer! I would love to read more about this, and I generally just feel like there needs to be more fiction that involves gaming. IT'S AWESOME.

I would recommend this for people who like Ready Player One, or just enjoy beautiful art and games.

Now I'm just rambling, but you get the point. This book was beyond awesome.
Whitney Atkinson
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
I got this book via Net Galley and my feelings on it are very mixed, but lean towards the negative.

- The art is really good, particularly at making the main character Anda's avatar show emotions with her face
- It's about a girl gamer which is awesome and is in the context of encouraging more girl gamers
- And it's a chubby girl!

- Fundamentally this is a book about how white people who try to play 'savior' to people of color when they don't know anything about the culture in question...
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A cool graphic novel that touches on subjects that a lot of people probably don't think about. The internal economy of the online games we play. How different cultures interact in these games.

A fun read, light and pleasant, and hopeful. It's nice to read something hopeful every once in a while...
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gamers
Most of the people you see going to work today are LARPing an incredibly boring RPG called "professionalism" that requires them to alter their vocabulary, posture, eating habits, facial expressions - every detail all the way down to what they allow themselves to find funny.

Okay, this ostensibly a graphic novel about a girl (high school) who plays a MMORPG called Coarsegold.

But in reality is a lecture about poverty in China and the economic and class differences between middle-class American teen
Jan Philipzig
Targeted at young teens (I think), this graphic novel makes the valid point that the real lives of many online role-playing gamers around the world are far from glamorous. Unfortunately, it drops the ball on all the related issues it initially seems to raise: Is there some kind of link between the privileges we enjoy and the repression/exploitation experienced in other parts of the world? Is it okay for marketers to promote games in schools? What about our game's tendency to celebrate violence a ...more
Kristina Horner
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I was drawn to it simply because of that gorgeous cover, but the story itself was surprisingly poignant and sweet. The main character was such a complex, kickass girl and the fact that a "book about gaming" tackled such important topics and bullying and health-care needs was a refreshing change of pace in a world where society's perception of gaming is still so full of misunderstanding and judgement.

I wish it was longer! I wish I could play Coursegold Online! Highly recommende
Rachel Reads Ravenously
Really, really enjoyed this gem of a graphic novel. The fact that it was about girl gamers was just the cherry on top of the sundae :)
Nov 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
First off, I loved the art style in In Real Life. Art style is just as important to me as the plot when it comes to graphic novels, so I'm glad it didn't disappoint. It matches the cover, so it is a very cute, simple art style that is very easy to get into. That being said, what you see is what you get. It's not very complicated. I prefer my graphic novels to be a little more complex where I have to pay a bit more attention to the frames and with this one, you can skim most of them.

As far as the
First Second Books
Oct 16, 2014 marked it as first-second-publications
With all the kerfuffle going on in gaming circles right now about the inclusion of women in video games, I'm so glad that Cory and Jen have created this book with a girl main character who loves and plays video games.

More than that, I'm glad that this is a story where the fact that Anda is a girl never comes into question. Of course she's a girl. Of course she loves video games. Of course they're important to her in both her online and offline lives, and influence how she thinks about life in ge
Sam Quixote
Aug 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Being a teen is restrictive but for Anda, when she logs into Coarsegold, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), she’s free as her avatar. And then she meets Raymond, a player her age from China, and her world, online and offline, changes.

Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang’s In Real Life is an enjoyable and compelling comic that cleverly highlights the differences between Eastern and Western childhoods, as well as their similarities, through online gaming.

Coarsegold for Anda is part
I probably should have liked this more than I actually did. I am a gamer, even if I don't play MMOs. I do appreciate Doctorow for pointing out how intimidating it can be to be female online. But that's basically abandoned as a storyline almost immediately. I'm happy he addressed it (though it's obviously much safer for him, as a man, to mention the issue than it would be for a woman) but it's just kind of mentioned once or twice then forgotten about. The book isn't about that, but I sort of wish ...more
Kate (GirlReading)
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5* First of all, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED the artwork in this. It's beautifully drawn and the colours are gorgeous. It's definitely one of the prettiest, most aesthetically pleasing graphic novels I've read.

I also really liked the fact that Anda wasn't the classic, model figured character I've often seen in graphic novels. It was nice that the characters were all different shapes and sizes! I enjoyed the feminist aspect to it, although I do wish that had been a little more prominent as I felt it w
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this!!
A digital ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

tl;dr: Teenage Anda is a girl gamer who gets caught up in Coarsegold, her favorite MMO, where she feels invincible, powerful, and wanted — until she meets Raymond, a poor Chinese teen who also loves Corasegold, and discovers things are not all that they seem. Raymond, it turns out, works illegally within the game to make money on the outside to survive. Lines between right and wrong get blurred pretty quick while Anda balan
Apr 08, 2017 rated it liked it
3 stars. Eeh, this was alright. Enjoyable but not memorable.

I liked the art style the most. The colors were bright and vivid and worked really well in making the digital world feel energized and alive. The fighting scenes especially stood out by their power and the dynamic movements of the characters. Wang did a great job at designing the diverse fantasy world of Coarsegold, and if it was real, I'd love to join the game community.

The plot however wasn't nearly as creative as the digital world o
The good part is that this got me reading after I've been in a reading slump during the last couple of weeks. The not-so-good part is that the story was, well... not so good. The art was rather mediocre in my opinion and the plot just lacked something. While I've loved every graphic novel I've read so far, this was the first one that didn't really grab or excite me. Meh.
Oct 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
Please tell me I'm not the only one who found this graphic novel incredibly problematic?

My biggest problem with In Real Life is the way it portrays social class. Dichotomies between classes is rarely discussed in literature geared toward younger audiences. I was ecstatic when I thought I finally found a book to dive into these issues. But after having read it, I have to say that I think this graphic novel failed miserably at the task.

It was so frustrating to see that the social problems facing
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was ok

Loved the artwork, wasn't as impressed by the rest. Found the characters really flat and the most of the story quite dull and predictable, the gaming aspect (when the characters actually entered the video game) was quite fun though.
Was more interested in Raymond's life and the problems he faced in his workplace in China than Anda's first world problems and second hand angst.
Kind of hated the end where the complicated issues Raymond (and other players like him) faced were solved in the m
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
This is such a good graphic novel. I really enjoyed it. Wish it was longer, though
This is pretty cute!

There are some great things in this book:
1) Anda could be any girl. She's chunky with brown hair and not-white skin. She could represent pretty much any non-standard teenage female, especially any gamer girl (in that she's not the petite, blonde cheerleader type)(which isn't to say petite, blonde cheerleaders don't play video games; I'm sure plenty of them do but that look is not the stereotype for girls who are geeks and this story is not about busting cheerleader stereotype
Lauren Stoolfire
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Anda spends most of her free time playing Coarsegold Online, an MMORPG, where she can be a hero, meet people from all over the world, and make new friends. Things get complicated when she meets a gold farmer in the game. A poor Chinese kid plays the avatar who's job it is to collect valuable items in the game and sell them to players with money to burn. That's strictly against the rules of the game, but Anda quickly begins to real
Liz Janet
Nov 12, 2014 rated it liked it
White saviour complex? Yes, but it is not the basis of the story at all, there are many other layers to it than simply that, however due to the shortness of the story, it did not get to be as developed as it could have been. This story shows issues within the gaming industry, as well as certain aspects of globalization, including "modern slavery." There is representation of female gamers, as well as chubby females instead of the most, usually displayed, demographic. It had many things I could as ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: In Real Life, by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang 3 18 Jun 21, 2016 04:11AM  
She-Geeks: January 2016 Read: In Real Life 2 15 Jan 25, 2016 04:53PM  
Graphic Novel Rea...: Optional Book Club Discussion: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow - September 2015 3 20 Oct 03, 2015 02:26PM  
2015 Hub Reading ...: In Real Life 6 24 Jun 17, 2015 10:41AM  
i love this 1 12 May 29, 2015 10:48AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: #61 In Real Life by Cory Doctorow 1 2 May 17, 2015 08:47PM  
Missing: Not Dead: Girl-Gaming 3 12 Feb 05, 2015 04:10PM  
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Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of the YA graphic novel In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema, and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture Of The Nerds and Makers. He is a Fellow for the Electron ...more
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“Most of the people you see going to work today are LARPing (live-action role playing) an incredibly boring RPG (role-playing game) called "professionalism" that requires them to alter their vocabulary, posture, eating habits, facial expressions--every detail all the way down to what they allow themselves to find funny.” 28 likes
“This life is real too. We're communicating aren't we?” 11 likes
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