School Library Journal
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Gr 7 Up-In a story (Tor Teen, 2010) that explodes with life, Cory Doctorow invites us into the world of teenage video gamers who hail from India, China, and Southern California. Each character struggles to make a living via gaming and gold-farming, escaping the wrath of predatory adults who capitalize on the young people's online agility. Around every corner, they meet actual and virtual danger. These characters exist in a dizzyingly complex world, yet each interwoven tale describes an age-old story of forging identity, standing up for oneself, and eventually leaving home. Most affecting is Mala, who lives beside a plastics recycling plant in India, and escapes the powerlessness of poverty through gaming. All the characters are brought together by Big Sister Nor, an online presence who haunts and captivates-and invites them to reexamine the meaning of online labor. George Newbern's narration is perfunctory, with a reserved tone that seems too detached for such an exuberant story. He changes voices for some characters, but not others, and his Indian and Chinese accents and female falsettos will often make listeners cringe. In a book filled with so many culturally diverse characters, the narrator should have had more lingual versatility. The absence of music is also a missed opportunity. A snatch of melody from the character's culture could have signaled point of view shifts. And the sounds of the games, which Doctorow describes so vividly, would have also made for a livelier listening experience. The tech-savvy teens who would be drawn to this story would crave more stimulation than this audiobook offers.-Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard High School Early College Queens, Long Island City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.