This is a graphic novel set in the universe of online gaming. This story isn't merely about the actual game though. It follows main character Anda as she takes her first steps in the virtual world of Coarsegold, meeting along the way new acquaintances and discovering new strengths within herself when very much real issues start to crop up in her life.
Anda has newly joined Coarsegold Online, a massively-multiplayer role-playing game, where she goes on virtual missions and adventures through her in-game persona, a powerful redheaded warrior. Through the game, Anda comes across new acquaintances, including kick-ass virtual warrior Sage who quickly becomes her friend and ally. Things take a complicated turn when Anda come across a gold farmer, one of the strange, silent avatars who seem to be illegally collecting valuables intended to be sold to other players. When the avatar talks to her, Anda is intrigued and immediately wants to know more about the avatar, and the person who controls it. The avatar turns out to belong to a poor Chinese boy who is paid to conduct these illegal in-game dealings. There are many others like him and while what they are doing is illegal, it's also pretty much the only thing that keeps them safe and fed. Anda thus comes to question what's morally right or wrong and embarks on her own real life mission to strive to be the hero who's only so far been real in her imagination.
This graphic novel has a beautiful cast of well-fleshed out characters, each with their own flaws and redeeming qualities. Anda is a formidable main character. She is a little on the plump side, with your average looks, which makes her a very relatable character. When we first meet her, she seems to be a calm-tempered and somewhat quiet girl, with a passion for gaming and the Internet. Also, Anda is just one of the cutest characters ever drawn. I mean, look at those cheeks! As the story progresses, we see her build the character of her powerful, flamed haired warrior persona, before slowly emerging in the real world as an equally strong young woman herself. Her parents are also portrayed very realistically as stern but equally loving parents. The secondary characters of Sage and the gold farmer were also fun to read about, both of them adding depth to the story.
The story is fast-paced, juggling an intriguing plot-line with just the right amount of exposition and narrative description. Since it's a graphic novel, you don't get whole paragraphs of descriptive writing but instead, the story takes root and unfolds through the actions and dialogues of the characters at a pace that will keep you entertained without being overwhelmed by information.
As you can tell from the pictures, this graphic novel uses a palette of light colors, giving the book a general light atmosphere which makes a beautiful contract with the somewhat serious storyline. This enables the story to be conveyed in a way that will encourage readers to read on, even when things are not always bright and perfect in the worlds of the characters. The artwork, too, is beautiful. There is a softness to the artwork that immediately makes the reader feel comfortable in Anda's the little world.
I ended up giving this graphic novel 5/5 stars on Goodreads. If you hadn't figured it out yet, I loved In Real Life. Also, clever title there! This is not a book I would recommend strictly to fans of comic books. This graphic novel has a very harmonious flow to it, which makes for an easy read. The story is easy to follow and the beautiful artwork does a great job capturing your attention. So, this is something that I believe would appeal even to people who don't normally read comics or graphic novels.
Have you read or plan to read In Real Life? Let me know in the comments! I'm curious to see what you've thought of it.
Follow me here: