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’ve been following Eric Smith on Twitter for a while, and I’ve wanted to read this book ever since he announced its publication. Although I’ve never been much of a gamer (aside from some DS games back in the day), I can definitely appreciate a book that brings to light the struggles that female gamers, and especially female gamers of color, deal with on a regular basis.
While I did enjoy this book, there were a couple things that kept me from loving it. First, I thought that it started very, very slowly. It took me a long time to really care about what was happening to Divya and Aaron. Both of them eventually grew on me and I did become invested in their friendship (and later romance), but it took longer than I would have liked. And second, I felt like everything was over-exaggerated. I know that female gamers are harrassed and doxxed and it’s absolutely terrifying, but a lot of what happened to Divya felt really over-the-top. Why exactly are the Vox Populi so opposed to her, and why do they feel the need to go to such lengths to stop her? I appreciated that the book called out their toxic masculinity, but I felt that could have been explored a little more, and I would have liked to see a bit more resolution of that storyline.
But overall, the book was good. I have a soft spot for online friends-to-lovers and I absolutely loved the progression of Divya and Aaron’s relationship in this book. I’ve seen a lot of reviews that claim it’s unrealistic, but sometimes you meet someone online and you just click.
This isn’t a book that I’d just issue a blanket recommendation for, but if you like feminism and gamer culture with just a touch of romance, you might like this one.
Have you read Don’t Read the Comments? Is it on your TBR?
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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith”
I haven’t had the chance to read this book. I have it on my shelf and it’s been sitting there, but it really looks appealing since female gamers especially POC always gets the worse because men can’t understand why women do that-it’s a little annoying
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I hope you like it if you get the chance to read it! It was such a great concept for a book.
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