Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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Doctorow uses video games to get teenage readers to think more about globalization, economics, and fair labor practices in this expansive but ponderous story. Set, like his earlier Little Brother, in a near-future world, it centers on attempts to unionize teenagers who work within massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) as gold farmers, employed to raise game gold and find magic items to be resold, or as Turks, who help police the virtual environments. Employed for minimal wages under horrible working conditions-sometimes in near slavery-these children, led by a global group of fierce and talented gamers, band together, subverting the MMORPGs to take on their corrupt local bosses and the corporations that own the games. As usual, Doctorow writes with authority and a knack for authentic details and lexicon, moving between impoverished villages in China and India and inventive video game worlds. But the story founders under the volume of information he's trying to share-the action is interrupted by lectures on economic principles, sometimes disguised as conversations-and an unwieldy cast of characters. It's undeniably smart and timely, but would have benefited from tighter editing. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Doctorow is indispensable. It's hard to imagine any other author taking on youth and technology with such passion, intelligence, and understanding. Although perhaps less urgent than Little Brother (2008), this effort is superior in every other aspect: scope, plot, character, and style. Set in the near future and in locations across the globe (though primarily China and India), the story involves a sweeping cast of characters making a living if you want to call brutal conditions and pitiful wages a living in such virtual-game worlds as Svartalfheim Warriors and Zombie Mecha. Many of them, like 15-year-old Mala (known by her troops as General Robotwalla ), endure physical threats from their bosses to farm virtual gold, which is then sold to rich First World gamers. Then these brilliant teens are brought together by the mysterious Big Sister Nor, who has a plan to unionize and bring these virtual worlds and real-world sweatshops, too to a screeching halt. Once again Doctorow has taken denigrated youth behavior (this time, gaming) and recast it into something heroic. He can't resist the occasional lecture sometimes breaking away from the plot to do so but thankfully his lessons are riveting. With it's eye-opening humanity and revolutionary zeal, this ambitious epic is well worth the considerable challenge.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 10 Up-Wei-dong, known to his Orange County family as Leonard, is addicted to guild game play with his Chinese colleagues. Mala and Yasmin, brilliant strategists, are gaming from an Internet cafe in the poor streets of Dharavi. Matthew and Lu are trying to establish their own freelance gold-farming operation in the rough city of Shenzhen. Guided from Singapore by the secretive Big Sister Nor, these young people are slowly coming together and forming a union to demand basic working conditions and protection from organized crime rackets. In order to prove their strength, these Webblies take over the three games owned by the Coca-Cola Company. Battling for real-world rights in a virtual environment, they must overcome corrupt cops, determined sys ops, and social indifference to beat the game. Doctorow is continually at the leading edge of electronic issues, rallying supporters to the causes of intellectual freedom, privacy, and social justice. Readers will appreciate the game descriptions, but will have a harder time relating the gold-farming issues back to their own play. Lengthy asides detail the workings of the game economies, but they aren't as skillfully incorporated as in Little Brother (Tor, 2008). The characters are well formed, but at times it is difficult to keep their interactions in order. Leonard's internal rant with his father is preachy and somewhat tenuous as a justification for the benefits of social gaming. On the other hand, Yasmin's emotional turmoil and attempt to reconcile her upbringing with her current circumstances is honest and rewarding. Full of action and information, this is a solid, if occasionally soapbox-worthy, narrative.-Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In Little Brother, Doctorow created a near-future tale that brought attention to the wrongdoings of Homeland Security. Here, his subject is the teenaged workers of the world's game economies. The "gold farmers," who convert game gold into real money, are fed up with their long hours, small profits, and thug bosses. The solution? A world union, the IWWWW, International Workers of the World Wide Web. The complex story follows a union organizer named Big Sister Nor, teen game workers in India, China, and the United States, and the lead economist for Coca Cola's game division as the workers plot to take control of the games and their real-world economies. Doctorow's rollicking, globe-trotting narrative is occasionally interrupted by economics lessons that may have teen readers skipping ahead but that fascinated this gaming virgin. -Angelina Benedetti, "35 Going on 13," BookSmack! 9/16/10 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.