After I read the lovely The Prince and the Dressmaker, I went looking for more books by the same author, Jen Wang. I found In Real Life, which she wrote with Cory Doctorow. I really liked his book Little Brother, but I never got around to reading the sequel. I liked this book too, but it was very preachy. The story is about Anda, who spends a lot of her time playing Coarsegold Online, an MMO where she is a badass redheaded fighter. Anda is about the same age I was when I realized hanging out with fellow dorks, geeks and nerds made me very happy. She’s recruited into a guild, Clan Farenheit, and one of the guild members, Lucy, tells her on her first mission to kill all of the gold farmers.
Gold farmers are people who do the tedious work of gathering gold and other objects that take a long time to get in the game and sell them to the kids who don’t want to wait long to advance in game. Most of the gold farmers are Chinese, and work for companies that pay kids (very little) to farm the gold. Anda meets a gold farmer and actually gets to know him in the game. Since he works long shifts in China, Anda decides to help him (this is very teenage girl so I appreciated this) and in doing so makes things much worse for the kid (also very teenage girl). She learns that not everything is fair, and things don’t always work out the way you intend them to. I also really liked that Anda is not a manic pixie comic girl. She has curves (and great hair) and by the end of the story when she’s made her hair red like her in game avatar, she’s come to accept herself. That’s a great thing for teenagers, and teen girls especially. I’m looking forward to more works by Jen Wang. Her characters are not conventional. Her stories are interesting.