Bibliotropic's Reviews > For the Win

For the Win by Cory Doctorow
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Mar 19, 2011

bookshelves: young-adult
Read from July 06 to 11, 2017 , read count: 2

If somebody alked up to me and said, "I have a book I know you're going to love. It's all about economics, labour unions, and the unfair working conditions in developping countries," I might suspect this person doesn't know my reading tastes very well. Such a book might appeal to those with specific interests, but me, well, that's not my thing.

And then this person would hand me For the Win, and I'd be intrigued because it involves gaming, something I'm familiar with. And then I'd read it, and be blown away.

That's Doctorow's genius in this book. He can take all of the above concepts and make them not only interesting, but make them into something that anyone can relate to, especially today's game-happy youth culture. He can take economics and break them down into the simply complex and absurd things that they are, and make it comprehensible. He makes the legnths that some companies go to to control virtual wealth seem like what it is: ridiculous and yet incredibly valuable. This book makes you look at the world, see it in a different light, and get outraged that it isn't better. It's hard-hitting, heartbreaking, and like the games it talks about, endlessly entertaining.

The characters are, above all else, wonderfully human. There are sides of right and wrong, and the lines are clearly drawn, but the people on the side of good are still flawed, violent and angry and they make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes end up fatal. These are people you could pass on the street, could see at school; they don't have to be half a world away in some poorly-ventilated sweatshop, and that just seeks to underscore the message of labour equality that's the main focus of the novel. "There are no Chinese workers. There are just workers."

If you think this books comes across as being a bit preachy, you'd be right. But when your characters are fighting for the right to refuse 22-hour shifts without being beaten, fighting for the right to not be raped in order to hang onto their jobs, I think a little preachiness is allowed.

This book came to me highly recommended, and it leaves my hands in the same state. Go, pick up this book, read it and learn things that you may not have even thought about before. And I dare you to tell me that at the end of it, you didn't feel your moral centre being tugged at, even just a little.
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