ARC review: 'Don't Read the Comments' by Eric Smith

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Acquired through NetGalley
Release Date: January 28, 2020

Synopsis:

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

My Thoughts:

I received Don’t Read the Comments from NetGalley, in exchange of an honest review.

Don’t Read the Comments was a very amusing and emotional story about the online gaming community. The characters Divya and Aaron live their lives as young adults trying to make life better for their families while playing their favorite game Reclaim the Sun. Diverse representation was also proudly featured in this story, having the main characters be people of color.

Don’t Read the Comments describes the harassment women face within the gaming community in explicit detail. It was truly heartbreaking reading about Divya’s dilemma as online trolls threaten her very livelihood, and that of her close friends. The story also details the apathy many people carry around when it comes to the safety of children playing online games. These are different times, where many social experiences are communicated online.

The overall themes expressed in this story are friendship and trust. Divya and Aaron live in separate regions, yet they learn to communicate without reservation from the moment they’re placed together by circumstance. It was sweet reading each interaction as they learn more about each other’s lives!

Don’t Read the Comments is a heartfelt book that features the power of community within the gaming world. I highly recommend it!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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