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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 mum 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.
- ISBN10 1094028894
- ISBN13 9781094028897
- Publish Date 28 January 2020
- Publish Status Active
- Imprint Inkyard Press
- Edition Library Edition
- Format Audiobook (CD)
- Duration 8 hours and 32 minutes
- Language English
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Being a female gamer is hard enough, avoiding trolls and online abuse from arrogant males laying claim to online spaces. Divya has tried to protect her personal information. She doesn't use her real name, location or allow people past the virtual walls she's built around herself, she knows all too well how unsafe the world can be for females after her best friend, gaming buddy and streaming producer Rebekah was attacked in an elevator on her college campus. But when Divya is attacked and ambushed in game by a group of dudebros calling themselves the Vox Populi, the online trolling spills into her real life, comprising her safety.
Any girl gamer who's ever played an online multiplayer can attest to Divya's story. I'm no stranger to online gaming. In my younger years playing Call of Duty online and the amount of assholes who try to intimidate and target females is infuriating. Often console support will suggest you block other users or turn off the in game chat, sure, that solves the issue. I would have thought of that myself but my simple female brain is too occupied with flower arranging and darning socks. The issue is that for so long, they've allowed male gamers to create a toxic environment online where these losers living in their mother's basement get together and drive female gamers from the community. Back then, girls would meet online at a specific time and have female only sessions of online games. Safety in numbers is instilled in us because of men and allowing them to become faceless behind a keyboard only perpetuates their male fragility.
Aaron Jericho is a part time online gamer, his real interest lies in creating games and storyboarding, working for an independent developer who is trying to dodge paying wages for his staff. With no wage and an overbearing mother who refuses to support his dream of becoming a game developer, he's built himself a Frankenstein computer made from dumpster spare parts and pieces found in the neighbours trash. It works and is good enough to run Reclaim The Sun where Divya and her armada has just been attacked.
Aaron is a kindhearted young man and while he's never experienced trolling as Divya is now experiencing, he wholeheartedly supports her and her need for privacy while still checking in to make sure she's doing okay. Aaron's narrative explores the issue of creators not being paid appropriately for their work, taking advantage of because they're afforded experience. Experience doesn't pay the bills. Aaron's blossoming friendship with Divya allows him to escape and seek solace online and although he'd like to meet her, he respects Divya's need for privacy and allows her to set boundaries within their friendship. Never pushing her to meet offline or for her phone number.
The focus of the story is how unsafe online spaces can be for females in particular and like Divya, we can protect ourselves and our personal, sensitive information but online communities whether it be social media or gamer communities, it allows others to have access to us. Streaming her gaming attracts large audiences and although it's wonderful for Divya who can earn money from sponsorship, being a public figure shouldn't mean that her life should be for public consumption. Her private life is her own. These online trolls who are aggressively targeting Divya, her friends and family are dangerous. As soon as your safety is compromised, these faceless assholes become a danger and more needs to be done to be able to persecute those who engage in online targeted harassment and doxxing.
Don't Read The Comments is an incredible narrative of girls fighting back against those who attempt to silence us. Eric Smith is an impeccable author, creating discussion surrounding creating safe online spaces for females and supporting young creators. There's a saying, the standard you walk past, is the standard you accept and we need to be more mindful of one another online. If you see targeted harassment, report harassers. If a young woman is being abused, speak out and if you're a male gamer who doesn't believe in females occupying online spaces, then fuck off.
About Don't Read The Comments:
Excerpt from Don't Read The Comments:
IMHO: Don't Read The Comments
Content Warning: Harassment, Attacks. PTSD, Anxiety,
I was so hyped for Don't Read the Comments for many reasons. It lives up to the hype, for so many reasons. Let's start, shall we?
One is the author, Eric Smith. I follow him on Twitter and adore him in my feed. He's such a positive force in the community, supporting authors and readers. Hopefully, he comes down to Phoenix, especially with Changing Hands, my favorite local indie.
Two, GEEK LOVE. They SOOOO geeky and pure and sweet. I WUVS THEM SO MUCH. They have great banter and chemistry.
Divya Sharma is the streamer who help support her and her newly single mom with her gaming. She's caring and supportive of her BFF, and her mom while being a positive role model with her Angst Armada.
Aaron Jericho writes stories for a local indie game developer who went to his high school. His immigrant parents are worried about his future and getting taken advantage of, pushing him towards medical school and away from gaming.
Three, Amazing Support People! Divya and Aaron have amazing support people in their friends and family. They talk about trauma and give advice and joke around. Aaron has such an adorable little sister with such a great cute relationship.
Four, it culminates in a gaming convention! ~The Showdown~. They mention how BS it is to have a panel about women in gaming with only ONE woman.
Five, it immediately grabbed me, it's a quick fun read. The pacing is great. There's no obvious miscommunications or stupid moments. AND the other character's actually react the way WE do to the situations and say it. It's the best thing. Finally someone said it!!
Six, GIRLS SUPPORTING GIRLS. GIRLS SAVING THEMSELVES.
Don't Read The Comments is a perfect YA contemporary romance fans that appreciate the geeky nerd fun. It's relevant, and I don't think it'll show its age for awhile.
Like Geekerella, The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You and Highly Illogical Behavior.
About the Author:
There's a giveaway over on Goodreads:
This review was originally posted on The Layaway Dragon
This was not the first book I have read, that tackled issues surrounding online gaming, but I do feel like it was one of the more immersive experiences for me. I would be hard pressed to learn that Eric Smith was not a gaming enthusiast, because the passages, where I was in-game, had that world springing from the page. Those pieces were so descriptive and dynamic, and they captivated even a game-dabbler, such as myself.
Though there was a lot of focus on the ills of life online, I liked that Smith highlighted some of the positive parts too. The sexual harassment, racism, and classism associated with the gaming world is well known, and an unfortunate part of it all, but when you can find your people, it can make a world of difference. There were several A+ moments, where we saw Divya's Angst Armada go to bat for her, both online and in real life. I loved how those virtual alliances were able to manifest off-line. Rebekah was another fantastic online friend, who became a very important person in Divya's world. She was not only her streaming partner, she was her best friend, and they offered a great deal of support to each other, as well as other girl gamers.
My favorite relationship Divya made online was with Aaron. Aaron's family wanted him to become a doctor and take over the family business, but he aspired to write video games. His storyline gave a peek into what it takes to develop an online game, which I found really interesting, but honestly, I just simply adored him. Aaron was so sweet and kind. He was the exact opposite of the toxic males, who were making Divya's life miserable. I loved that Smith wrote him to be sensitive. He loved his little sister and had a healthy relationship with his parents (who were wonderful). He had discussions about his feelings and would even hug it out when necessary. And, his interactions with Divya were pretty special and smile inducing. They were fabulous together, and I was shipping them hard.
Overall: A fun, yet honest, look at the world of online gaming, featuring family, friendship, and a little bit of romance.
*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
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