Saturday, May 23, 2020

Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith't+Read+the+Comments&qid=1590249016&s=books&sr=1-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=doyoudogear-20&linkId=03debf51f17435cdfa99b1d0604326f9&language=en_US
Narrated by Richa Shukla Moorjani &
Sunil Malhotra
Synopsis (via Goodreads): 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.


I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I was originally supposed to read and review this book for a blog tour, but then we moved and it fell through the cracks. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook for Don't Read the Comments, so I'm going to count this one as a win! The narrators were fantastic and really brought life to Smith's words. They lent an authenticity to the story that I don't think I would have been able to produce on my own. 

Divya is struggling with trolls, online bullying, cyber stalking, and so much more simply for being a female gamer, and likely because she was also a person of color. I really loved how she was portrayed, and how realistic her experiences were. She was scared for herself, her mother, and her best friend, but she also didn't want to let the trolls win their absurd war. They were driven by hate, and their actions had lasting consequences on people's lives. It wasn't enough to destroy D1V in the virtual world, but they wanted to hurt her in real life as well. 

It's scary because it's true. I'm happy the author chose to shed light on an issue that plagues a lot of people, but one that doesn't receive enough attention. The actions of trolls and online bullying are seen as harmless, because it's just words on a screen right? Death in a game isn't death in real life? Unfortunately, that's not the case. People's actions online can have a drastic impact on a person's life. Children have committed suicide after being repeatedly bullied online, and it's an issue that more people should take seriously. Words matter. Your online presence matters. You can't just do or say whatever you want behind your computer screen, because what you put out into the world has the potential to hurt someone else.

I really liked both Divya and Aaron, and enjoyed their individual stories. They were a little underdeveloped, but still amazing characters. I wanted to know more about their families, and what their lives were like before gaming, but we mostly see what they're dealing with in the present. There's very little reflection or rumination, and I wanted to learn more about what drove them to their present situations. I also wanted a more gratifying conclusion, and wish certain people had been brought to justice (especially for Divya's best friend). I know it's impossible to catch every troll, but I still wanted that for D1V. 

The gaming aspect was something I really related to as well! I love playing video games (mostly RPGs), and recently brought out our old SNES for the kids to play on (desperate times call for desperate measures). Our son loves to play Donkey Kong Country, and the girls get excited about Mario Paint. The game the book centers around is called Reclaim the Sun, and I wish it really existed. It's definitely something I would play! I loved how immersive it was, and like the idea of endlessly exploring planets with unknown content. Smith should see about getting his fictional game made into one people in the real world can play! I think it would be very popular. :)

If you're looking for a satisfying story with wonderful characters, Don't Read the Comments has both. The author touches on tough topics, while also conveying the importance of friendship, family, and standing up for yourself and what's right.


Author Bio: 

Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers (@ericsmithrocks).

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  1. I like that this book touches on topics that are going to affect a lot of people, kids especially with how they idolise gamers (and often aspire to be one).
    I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

  2. I thought Smith did a fantastic job with the game play sequences. I found I shared the excitement with the on page players. I loved Aaron's family too.

  3. I think I will have to read this one. Great review, Lindsi!

  4. This sounds like such an important novel! Glad that it was something that you enjoyed.

  5. It matters what a person says online. But the younger people don't seem to get that at times. This sounds like a good book.

  6. This sounds like it really highlights a topic that is all too common these days. Cyberbullying a very real, and I'm glad to see it receives attention in this novel. Also, don't you just love when audiobook narrators are able to bring the characters to life in a way you could only have dreamed to?!

  7. It's neat that this book features gaming. And it's great how it portrays the reality of trolling, online bullying, and cyber stalking. I've noticed how people feel more comfortable saying inflammatory and hurtful things online because they're behind a screen.

  8. This sounds really good. Is it a standalone? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. πŸ‘✨

  9. Great review, Lindsi. I hope the themes in this book encourage open discussion because it's scary how many kids and adults suffer in silence with this sort of bullying.


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