Aaron's Reviews > Level Up

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang
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's review
Sep 27, 2011

it was amazing

This is really a great presentation of how parental expectations really can affect our life choices. Dennis Ouyang is really having a hard time living up to his deceased fathers expectations to study hard and become a doctor. Dennis had always had a talent for playing video games, but that seemed to conflict with his unspoken promise to his father.

After some bumps in the road, Dennis finds some support in the form of four angels, who look a great deal like the Power Puff Girls. They had featured on a card his dad and given him after doing well in middle school. The card had disappeared, and Dennis always thought his father had taken it back when he started to get poorer grades in high school.

After settling in at med school, Dennis finds a group of friends as a study group and a support system. These friends, particularly a girl named Kat who makes him realize that he can only be happy by living up to his own wants and needs. Deep down, his father would want him to be happy as well as successful. The result is a shift in Dennis' approach to his career choice and his schooling. It is surprising and quite a bit heartwarming.

Some people might recognize the name of the author (Yang), because his first book, American Born Chinese was quite successful and really good. This volume really lives up to the expectations his fans might have.

Similarly, the illustrations, while simple, really nicely capture the essence of the storytelling. The coloring shifts greatly throughout the book, often capturing the feel and the tone of what is going on in the story at the time.

I also really appreciated the background suggestion that gaming is not necessarily a bad thing and can actually result in some benefits in certain professions and fields. Beside, you gotta love a book that uses a classic Nintendo Gameboy in its cover art!

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