5 star rating
In Real Life
By Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro


Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. 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. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer – a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person’s real livelihood is at stake.

From acclaimed teen author and digerati bigwig Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.


In Real Life brought back so many good gaming memories! I was definitely able to relate to some aspects of the story, such as the difficult process of moving from what one calls and feels like home, to a new place that seems foreign to us; making friends across the world via the internet; wanting to be a female character in certain games when you could only play boys; my parents’ worry over who I befriended without knowing them physically and who they really were; the life of a teenage girl in general. But, just like Anda, there were its positive results that led me to something great, now in my life, OBS, in the vast virtual world that is the internet.

At the start of the novel, the author explains what In Real Life is mainly about. The reader can’t just see it as another graphic novel about virtual games, but about the big enterprise that is behind it and that we sometimes just don’t see. Anda lives her teenage life as normal as it is to her; she spends time with her family, she goes to school, she creates and plays games with her friends, but when the opportunity comes to be someone else in a virtual world that you can practically mold to your like, she immediately takes the chance.

What she doesn’t know, is that even a simple virtual game can bring great changes to her life and those who surround her. In such a short lapse of time, Anda matures from a role playing game girl to a girl trying to make a change on human rights all from across the world through her computer and an internet connection. She learns to see beyond the avatar and user name.

Another thing I was very pleased with was the illustration. The difference between how the real world and virtual world are described is very detailed and clear. The backgrounds change from warm colors like brown and yellow, to bright greens, reds, and blues to make a difference when Anda is inside Coarsegold playing. In Real Life is such an amazing and refreshing graphic novel to read and appreciate it’s hidden details (I saw you Sailor Moon,) to the point that you can’t put it down.

All in all, In Real Life is a must read novel for RPG (Role Playing Game) girls and readers in general because it’s just not virtual games, it’s more than that; it’s real life.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*