Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith

Don't Read the Comments

by Eric Smith

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.

Reviewed by Sam@WLABB on

4 of 5 stars

Divya, a popular streaming gamer, and Aaron, a video game writer, accidentally meet on an uncharted planet...while playing Reclaim the Sun. A friendship began to grow between them, but as Divya battled online harassment, doxing, and real-life assaults, she began to rethink her life online.

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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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 10 December, 2019: Finished reading
  • 10 December, 2019: Reviewed