Book Reviews

Review: Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith

I have been a fan of Eric Smith ever since The Girl and the Grove and before! But when I saw Don’t Read the Comments tackling issues of trolls, streaming video games, and an Indian MC, I was beyond sold.

Summary

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.

PREORDER Don’t Read the Comments for some amazing swag – a laptop decal, signed book plate, and an enamel pin! Submit your proof today! It’s international and it also goes for library requests!

Review

(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Don’t Read the Comments is a story that even after finishing makes you want to immediately start again. Whether it be the YA book shout outs, our mutual love of enamel pins, or Divya’s love for her mother, you will want to jump right back in. I read Don’t Read the Comments in one sitting because not only are there moments of tenderness and hilarity, but it’s emotionally gripping.

Incredibly timely, Don’t Read the Comments is a story that made my heart ache – how Divya is harassed by these trolls, the lengths they go out of fear and insecurity to make her feel unsafe and unwelcome. But at the same time, my heart ached in the best way as we see Divya’s call to action, the community she has online, and her budding friendship with Aaron. Don’t Read the Comments is an emotional roller coaster of the best variety.

Don’t Read the Comments is a story about solidarity, fighting against those who intimidate and finding a community of people who support you. At the same time it’s about Divya and her economic situation where her streaming brings in money that her family desperately needs, but the immense harassment she receives online. She has to figure out a way to balance her needs and wants with her very real situation.

Themes and Brightness

And at the same time, Don’t Read the Comments asks us questions about privacy and the internet. How do we keep our privacy in this internet age where we can live our lives more and more online, when it changes the way we see the future? It’s something I’ve been thinking more about as someone with social media and where I wonder how much of myself do I put online. How do I balance safety, fear, and the friendships I have made in the book community?

But Don’t Read the Comments isn’t only a story about harassment, it has moments of brightness that temper the very real fear and danger Divya faces. I adored all these little touches like Aaron’s sister, the moments of happiness Divya is able to find, and her relationship with her mother. Speaking of Aaron, I loved that Don’t Read the Comments was told from two perspectives and we are able to see the events of Divya’s life unfolding from the outside. Not only that, but Aaron is going through his own challenges as a content creator and as someone who is trying to pursue his dreams pushing back against his family’s expectations.

Overall,

Don’t Read the Comments is about having the hope and courage not only to take care of ourselves, but to fight for the spaces we love. While there are comments from trolls who only seek to hide behind anonymous walls, there are also voices of support, love, and recognition. People whose lives we have touched, connected people through shared passions, and gave people a safe space.

Find Don’t Read the Comments on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.

PREORDER Don’t Read the Comments for some amazing swag – a laptop decal, signed book plate, and an enamel pin! Submit your proof today! It’s international and it also goes for library requests!

Discussion

What is your favorite book that has video games in it?


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